Race Weekend Central

Proton Competition Completes 2024 IMSA Lineup

Proton Competition announced Tuesday (Jan. 9) their intentions to run two full-time entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2024. In addition to their customer Porsche 963, they will race a Ford Mustang GT3 in the GTD class, the third full-time Mustang that will be on the WeatherTech grid.

Proton previously announced a number change for their Porsche from No. 59 (pictured above at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta) to No. 5 for this season and new primary sponsorship from Mustang Sampling. Gianmaria Bruni and Neel Jani, who drove the No. 59 last season, will return to the team’s Porsche. They will be joined by Romain Dumas and Alessio Picariello.

Both Bruni and Jani drove part-time schedules in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and WeatherTech in 2023. The same Porsche 963 chassis at first was used in both series.

Dumas has been a factory racer for the vast majority of his career, first with Audi, then with Porsche. He is a three-time overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2010, 2013 and 2016). In Daytona, Dumas’ best finish was third overall with CORE autosport in 2018.

Picariello has four previous starts in WeatherTech. The first came in 2018 in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, where he finished fourth in the GTD class. In 2022, Picariello drove three races for the Proton-run WeatherTech Racing in GTD Pro with a pair of sixth-place finishes.

Outside of IMSA, Picariello won two races last year in the European Le Mans Series’ GTE class alongside Ryan Hardwick and Zacharie Robichon. With five podium finishes in six races, the trio won the class championship.

The new squad for Proton is the No. 55 Ford Mustang GT3 that will race in the GTD class. The team was effectively announced when IMSA revealed their preliminary Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list in November. At the time, it appeared to be either a part-time entry, or a one-off.

See also
Preliminary Entry List: Rolex 24 at Daytona

That is not the case. Corey Lewis and Giammarco Levorato will drive the No. 55 Ford full-time in 2024. For the five Michelin Endurance Cup races, they will be joined by Hardwick. Dennis Olsen, who will serve as a factory racer for Ford in Europe this season, will complete the lineup at Daytona.

Levorato is a complete unknown in North America, but a known quantity to Proton. Last year, Levorato, 20, drove the No. 77 Porsche in the ELMS’ GTE class alongside team owner Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer. The trio had two class victories (Paul Ricard and Portimao No. 1) and finished second in GTE points.

Lewis comes to Proton after racing in the Michelin Endurance Cup races in recent years, primarily for Paul Miller Racing. 2022 with CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing is an exception. He has five career victories in the GTD class, the most recent of which was in last year’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. This will be Lewis’ first full-time ride in GTD since 2017 with Change Racing in a Lamborghini.

Both quartets of drivers will be at Daytona International Speedway for the ROAR Before the 24 the weekend of Jan. 19-21 ahead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Frontstretch will be on-site to bring you all the action.

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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