Star-studded entry list for Petit le Mans features 38 cars

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The stars will be out in full force next week when the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship fires the engines for the final time this season at Road Atlanta for the 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 7.

In addition to the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans serving as the season finale for the WeatherTech Championship, it also represents the fourth and final round of the race for the 2017 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The four-round Patrón Endurance Cup recognizes the top performers in the four WeatherTech Championship endurance races:  the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans.

And because it’s an endurance race, many teams have enlisted superstars from throughout the sport to complete their driver lineups alongside their regular, full-season drivers.

WeatherTech Championship Prototype class-leading No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor will be joined by IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of three IndyCar stars currently on the entry list.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing again will have Scott Dixon as part of the lineup for its GT Le Mans (GTLM) class No. 67 Ford GT shared by Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe. In the team’s No. 66 Ford GT, Sebastien Bourdais is reunited with Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller – the same lineup that won the GTLM class in this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 2016 GTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Motul Petit Le Mans also will feature a “Who’s Who” of global sports car racing stars. In the Prototype class, Brendon Hartley and Bruno Senna have joined Tequila Patrón ESM – Hartley in the No. 2 Nissan DPi alongside Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp, and Senna sharing the team’s No. 22 entry with Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani. Filipe Albuquerque returns to the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, and Mike Conway is sharing the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.

Rebellion Racing returns to the WeatherTech Championship for the first time since March’s Twelve Hours of Sebring and will have Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfeld and Gustavo Menezes in its ORECA LM P2 car. On the heels of their thrilling victory in last Sunday’s AMERICA’S TIRE 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens return in the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Ligier LM P2 machine and will be joined by regular Mazda Prototype racer Jonathan Bomarito.

Other strong Prototype class entries include the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LM P2 shared by Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg; and the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier for Jose Gutierrez, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal.

The GTLM class will see the championship-leading No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R in the hands of regulars Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia alongside another international sports car star in Mike Rockenfeller. The team’s No. 4 entry will have endurance ace Marcel Fassler alongside Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.

Risi Competizione, the defending GTLM winners at Motul Petit Le Mans, return with Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander going for a second consecutive victory, this time with Alessandro Pier Guidi as their co-driver. BMW Team RLL, which has placed both of its cars in victory lane this season, has last weekend’s Mazda Raceway winners John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk in the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM along with 2014 WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Kuno Wittmer. In the No. 25 BMW, Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims are joined by Dutch hotshoe Nicky Catsburg.

The Porsche GT Team brings back some familiar faces to its driver lineup at Road Atlanta, namely a pair of overall 24 Hours of Le Mans winners. Nick Tandy returns to the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR with Patrick Pilet – with whom he took the overall Motul Petit Le Mans victory in 2015 – and Dirk Werner. Earl Bamber, who picked up his second 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victory in three years, will share the No. 912 Porsche with Gimmi Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor.

The GT Daytona (GTD) class winds down 2017 with a 17-car field. Leading the way are championship leaders Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan – who picked up their first victory of the season last weekend in Monterey – in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 along with co-driver Matteo Cressoni.

Ferrari became the seventh different manufacturer to win in GTD competition last weekend, and all eight of the class’ manufacturers would love to close out the season with a final victory. Porsche will have four chances with each entry fielding a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Three of those driver lineups already have won this year, including Daniel Morad, Michael Christensen and Michael de Quesada in the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports entry, the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports machine of Patrick Lindsey and Joerg Bergmeister – joined by Matt McMurry next week – and the No. 50 Riley Motorsports-WeatherTech Racing machine of Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette, being joined by Porsche factory ace Patrick Long. The fourth Porsche, the No. 54 CORE autosport 911 GT3 R, nearly won last weekend at Monterey and will have Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and Nic Jonsson in its car.

Audi will have three entries for Motul Petit Le Mans, led by the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports R8 LMS GT3 of 2017 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race-winners Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis along with Matt Bell. Alex Job Racing will field the No. 23 Audi for Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Frank Montecalvo and the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Audi returns to WeatherTech Championship competition for co-drivers Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies.

A majority of manufacturers will have two entries, including the pair of Lexus RC F GT3 race cars fielded by 3GT Racing. Driving the team’s No. 14 entry will be Sage Karam, Robert Alon and Ian James, while the No. 15 has sports car legend Scott Pruett alongside Jack Hawksworth and versatile racer Austin Cindric.

Lamborghini has two GTD entries, the No. 16 Change Racing Huracán GT3 co-driven by 2017 VIRginia International Raceway winners Jeroen Mul and Corey Lewis and their endurance co-driver, Brett Sandberg;  and the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini of Madison Snow, Atlanta’s Bryan Sellers and Trent Hindman.

Mercedes-AMG, which has won three races so far in 2017, has the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG entry for Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher, the same trio that won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. In the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be Tristan Vautier, Kenny Habul and Dion von Moltke.

Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, which took the Prototype class victory last year in the Motul Petit Le Mans, returns this year with a pair of Acura NSX GT3s in the GTD class. Two-time 2017 GTD race winners Andy Lally and Katherine Legge will be joined in the No. 93 Acura by Mark Wilkins, while Ozz Negri – who was part of Shank’s winning lineup last year – will share the No. 86 Acura with Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer.

The lone BMW in the GTD field will be the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 shared by Justin Marks, Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn. Klingmann and Krohn won the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase last month.

The final WeatherTech Championship race in the history of the Prototype Challenge (PC) class will see 2018 champions-elect James French and Patricio O’Ward with endurance driver Kyle Masson looking to close out a perfect season with their eighth victory aboard the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09. However, BAR1 Motorsports will look to stop the streak with one of its two entries, the No. 20 ORECA for Don Yount, Daniel Burkett and 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, or the No. 26 ORECA of Garett Grist, Tomy Drissi and an as-yet-unnamed third driver.

Practice for the WeatherTech Championship Motul Petit Le Mans gets under way Thursday, Oct. 5 with a one-hour session beginning at 11:10 a.m. ET. Thursday’s activities will include three WeatherTech Championship practice sessions, the second running from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. ET and night practice from 7:30 to 9 p.m. ET.

Friday’s schedule calls for an hour-long practice session beginning at 11:40 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying, which begins at 4:20 p.m. ET. Saturday’s race day schedule includes a warm-up session from 8:30 to 8:50 a.m., with the green flag scheduled to fall on the Motul Petit Le Mans at 11:05 a.m. ET.

The weekend schedule also includes Friday’s two-hour IMSA SportsCar Challenge season finale and two races apiece for the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and IMSA Prototype Challenge.