The season finale for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Motul Petit Le Mans, is a direct clash with the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Fuji. As a result, driver changes had to be made. Regular third driver Olivier Pla was originally replaced by Antonio Giovinazzi. Now, Giovinazzi has been replaced.
On Tuesday (Oct. 2), Tequila Patron ESM announced that 26-year old French racer Norman Nato will join Ryan Dalziel and team owner Scott Sharp in the No. 2 Nissan DPi at Road Atlanta. Nato is in the car because Giovinazzi is the third/test driver for Sauber F1 Team. As a result, he has commitments outside of grand prix weekends that have to be satisfied.
“Tequila Patrón ESM is excited to welcome Norman to our lineup for Petit Le Mans,” said Sharp. “He has shown great speed at each level in his climb up the motorsports ladder, particularly his last season in P2. Norman will acclimate quickly to our Nissan DPi and help greatly towards a repeat win!”
Nato comes from a open-wheel background, having progressed up through the ranks to the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017. There, Nato finished ninth in points with a victory in the sprint race in Azerbaijan. He also finished second in his very first race in the championship at Bahrain.
For this year, Nato transitioned to sports car racing, taking a seat with Racing Engineering in their ORECA 07-Gibson (pictured above) in the European Le Mans Series. Nato, along with teammates Paul Petit and Pla (who he is technically replacing at Road Atlanta) won on debut at Paul Ricard. With one race remaining, the Racing Engineering duo is currently third in LMP2 driver points. The No. 24 Racing Engineering squad is second in LMP2 team points. In addition, Nato made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with SMP Racing. Driving a Dallara P217-Gibson with Harrison Newey (F1 engineer Adrian Newey’s son) and Viktor Shaytar, Nato finished 10th in class.
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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