Race Weekend Central

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Signs Olivier Pla for Watkins Glen

On Wednesday, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports announced that Olivier Pla will drive the team’s No. 52 Ligier JS P217-Gibson in the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen.  Pla will join José Gutierrez in the sole Ligier.  The 35-year old Frenchman normally races a Ford GT in the FIA World Endurance Championship.  However, he comes to PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports with plenty of experience in prototypes.

Pla is definitely looking forward to Watkins Glen.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to join PR1 for Watkins Glen. I think this track is going to suit the Ligier very well,” Pla said in a team press release.  “We are definitely going to go for the win next weekend.  I want to do the best that I can to help the team and to help José [Gutierrez], so I will give the absolute maximum.”

In a crucial advantage for the Fresno-based team, Pla did a substantial amount of the development testing on the Ligier JS P217.  As a result, the French racer is already very familiar with the Onroak Automotive-produced prototype.

“I had the chance to be part of the development for this car, so I know the car very well,” Pla continued.  “PR1 has been a bit unlucky from the beginning of the year but they are a very strong team.  I hope that with my help and with the support of Onroak, altogether we can have a successful race.”

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has had a fairly difficult season so far.  The team is currently ninth in Prototype team points, worst of those teams that have started every race.  The driving lineup has shuffled around quite a bit due to scheduling issues and unforeseen circumstances.  To this point, the team’s best finish is a fifth at Long Beach with Tom Kimber-Smith and William Owen driving.

The team is also coming off of a start-and-park at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.  Officially, Kenton Koch and Ryan Lewis were the listed drivers, but Lewis raced in the PC class in BAR1 Motorsports’ No. 20.  Koch completed the first lap of the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (the only lap completed all weekend) before pulling in and retiring.

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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