On Thursday morning, Alex Job Racing (AJR), a team that races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, announced that they will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year. The team, which races Porsche 911 GT3-R’s in the GT-Daytona class, will compete in the GTE-Am class in a year old Porsche 911 RSR in a partnership with Proton Competition, a European team that has years of experience racing Porsches. AJR’s regulars from their No. 22, Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil, will be part of the driving lineup. They will be joined by Marc Miller, who races for CJ Wilson Racing in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and part-time for Riley Motorsports in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. WeatherTech will serve as the team’s primary sponsor and the team will use the No. 89.
Miller is very happy to return to the Circuit de la Sarthe in a Porsche.
“I have been racing a Porsche this season in the IMSA Continental Tire Series and enjoy being a part of the Porsche program,” Miller said in a press release. “When I think about Le Mans, I think about the 917’s and 911’s that have enjoyed so much success. It is incredible to have the opportunity to say that I will have raced a Porsche at the most storied race in the world. I have a huge amount of respect for Cooper and Leh and the entire WeatherTech Racing program. They have been front runners in the series and both also have experience at Le Mans, making this year even more focused and exciting. Porsche always has a chance. Last year Proton was runner up in class. It really does come down to running a clean, trouble-free race with no mistakes. Certainly easier said than done, but Porsche will no doubt provide a great machine to help us in that task.”
The WeatherTech Porsche No. 89 will be the third car at Le Mans running under the Proton banner. The team’s primary car is the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR that competes in the GTE-Pro class under the Dempsey-Proton Racing name. The team also has a second entry in the GTE-Am, the No. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche.
For Alex Job Racing, this will not be the first time that they’ve competed at Le Mans. AJR teamed up with Petersen White Lightning Motorsports and claimed back-to-back victories with the trio of Emmanuel Collard, Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen driving in 2003. In 2004, Collard was replaced by Jörg Bergmeister, but the momentum was unaffected by the change.
All three of the team’s drivers have raced at Le Mans previously. MacNeil has two previous starts, 2013 with Larbre Competition in a Chevrolet Corvette C6.R and 2014 with ProSpeed Competition in a Porsche 911 GT3-RSR. The 2014 run was originally supposed to be a GTE-Am effort with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Bret Curtis as teammates. However, Curtis crashed in qualifying and was knocked unconscious. As a result, Curtis was ruled out of the race. Unable to find a replacement second amateur (in GTE-Am, driving lineups can feature either one pro and two amateurs, or three amateurs) for Curtis, Bleekemolen and MacNeil were forced to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a two-man team in the GTE-Pro class. Driving a two year old 997 generation Porsche 911 GT3-RSR, Bleekemolen and MacNeil finished fifth in class.
MacNeil is hoping to not only repeat his form from 2014.
“My second time doing the race was an experience I will absolutely never forget,” MacNeil said in a press release. “Jeroen Bleekemolen and I finished fifth in GT Pro driving an antiquated car, compared to the competition, with all odds against us. We were a privateer team going up against strictly factory efforts with factory drivers while we were in an older car racing against the best in the world with one less man. Every time I got out of the car I would get some food and then lay down to sleep. As soon as my head hit the pillow there was a knock at the door for me to go back to the pits and prepare for my next stint in the car. I did over 11 hours in the car and the Dutchman did the rest. It was awesome. However, this year, we will have Marc Miller join Leh and I. Marc has done a stellar job in a race car over the last year and we are very excited to welcome him to our team. Porsche is as reliable as it gets and I am extremely excited to partner with them for my next Le Mans effort. They are the best in the business and I am looking forward to driving the RSR. A WeatherTech Porsche run by Proton with myself, Leh Keen, and Marc Miller driving is a recipe for a win, and that is exactly what we intend to do come June.”
Miller has only one previous start at Le Mans. It was last year for Riley Motorsports in a Dodge Viper GTS-R in the GTE-Am class. The team was not classified after completing 304 laps. Keen has two previous starts in a Porsche at Le Mans. In 2010, Keen teamed with Dominik Farnbacher and the late Allan Simonsen to finish second in GT2 with their Ferrari F430 GTC.
AJR’s announcement means that there are currently nine full-time IMSA teams confirmed for Le Mans (Tequila Patron ESM will also be present with two cars, but they are full-time in the WEC and only confirmed for the four race Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup). AJR will join Scuderia Corsa in GTE-Am. Corvette Racing and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing are each sending two cars to race in the GTE-Pro class, along with Risi Competizione‘s one Ferrari 488 GTE. In P2, Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian will field the No. 49 Ligier JS P2-Honda that Tequila Patron ESM won Daytona and Sebring with. Regular drivers Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and John Pew will be joined by GT3 star Laurens Vanthoor. Finally, Riley Motorsports has partnered with Murphy Prototypes to race their No. 48 ORECA 03R-Nissan. Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Marc Goossens will share the driving chores.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled for June 18th. FOX Sports has the TV rights in the United States for Le Mans and the entire 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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