IMSA is wrapping up their 2023 season this weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with the 26th Annual Motul Petit Le Mans as the centerpiece of the weekend. Four series will be in action.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans
For Saturday’s 10-hour classic, a capacity field of 54 teams entered. It was to the point where IMSA had a reserve list of teams. Last week, SportsCar365.com reported that Kelly-Moss Road & Race’s No. 91 Porsche was forced to withdraw due to an injury away from the track to Alan Metni. That allowed another team to get a spot in the race.
On Tuesday, Sean Creech Motorsports was forced to withdraw from the race due to a family emergency for Dr. Lance Willsey, one of the team’s regular drivers. As a result, the field is down to 53 cars, still a 10 car increase from last year and sure to result in a busy 2.54-mile course on Saturday.
The GTP class has the same 10 teams entered that raced last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, since this is an endurance race, you have extra drivers.
2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button will make his IMSA debut for JDC-Miller MotorSports in their Porsche 963. It has been a busy year for Button, having raced part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series while also being part of the Garage 56 program.
INDYCAR’s Josef Newgarden will make his GTP debut with Porsche Penske Motorsport in their No. 7 Porsche. Newgarden has only one career start in the series, that being in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Tower Motorsport in LMP2.
Nolan Siegel is currently entered in two cars. He’ll share the Crowdstrike Racing with APR No. 04, but also race Jr III Racing’s No. 30 in place of Balogh.
This weekend will mark the final appearance of the LMP3 class in WeatherTech. Due to space constraints, the class is being eliminated for 2024 and will only race in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge going forward.
The final WeatherTech race for the class will have seven cars going at it. It was supposed to be eight prior to Sean Creech Motorsports’ withdrawal.
VP Racing SportsCar Challenge points leader Bijoy Garg will make his endurance debut in Jr III Racing’s No. 30 after running sprint races in a second car earlier in the year. He’ll team up with Siegel and Garret Grist.
GTD Pro has eight entries. Risi Competizione returns with Ferrari Hypercar racer Alessandro Pier Guidi joining up with Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon. Iron Lynx is back with their factory-backed Lamborghini.
GTD has 19 entries. An interesting move is that of Turner Motorsport. Their original plan for the season was to run the No. 96 full-time in GTD, while the second car would switch back and forth between GTD and GTD Pro, running GTD Pro for the Michelin Endurance Cup races.
That is not the case for this weekend as the team’s second car will also run in GTD. The No. 97 BMW has regular drivers Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull being joined by Thomas Merrill, a driver who raced in LMP2 in recent years.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge FOX Factory 120
For the Michelin Pilot Challenge season finale, there are 37 teams entered between the two classes. This is down four teams from the 41 that entered Indianapolis.
The Grand Sport team has 24 teams entered, down three from Indy. Teams that are not entered include Archangel Motorsport, NV Autosport’s Ford Mustang, Fast Track Racing and GMG Racing. Rearden Racing originally entered their No. 21 Porsche that debuted at Indianapolis, but a revised entry list indicated that they had withdrawn their car.
Rejoining the grid is Murillo Racing’s No. 56 Mercedes. They originally planned to have Jeff Mosing back in the car this week, but he is still unable to go after his back injury. Charles Espenlaub will race in his place alongside Eric Foss. Espenlaub primarily competes in the 24H Series and the Nurburgring Langstrecken Serie (NLS) in Europe these days. This will mark his first Pilot Challenge start since 2020.
Wilsports is back with their Mercedes, while Hattori Motorsports is back after their one-off victory at CTMP back in July. This time, Seth Lucas will share the team’s Supra with Billy Johnson. It is a return of sorts since Lucas drove for the team last year in SRO America’s GT America powered by AWS and Pirelli GT4 America SprintX.
In TCR, there are 13 teams entered, down from 14 in Indianapolis. Road Shagger Racing, HART and Gou Racing are not entered.
LA Honda World Racing, who were forced to skip Indianapolis due to issues beyond their control, are back with their two Honda Civic Type-R TCRs. Dr. William Tally and Mat Pombo‘s car has been re-numbered from No. 37 to No. 7.
At Bryan Herta Autosport, two-time defending TCR champion Michael Lewis has been ruled out for this weekend. The team’s press release indicates that Lewis suffered an undisclosed injury in a crash late in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 240. The injury likely occurred during this side-to-side contact with Tim Lewis Jr.
In Michael Lewis’ place this weekend alongside Taylor Hagler will be Bryson Morris, who will be making his Michelin Pilot Challenge debut. Morris is currently competing for Inter Europol Competition in Michelin Le Mans Cup and part-time in the Formula Regional Americas 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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