DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – official series release — IMSA photo —
A pair of top teams in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will have the opportunity to represent the series in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, as Wayne Taylor Racing and Scuderia Corsa each received invitations earlier this week from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which organizes the annual endurance race.
Both teams received invitations for “at-large” entries in the 55-car field. The 2015 race will be held on June 13-14.
“We received multiple inquiries from TUDOR Championship teams expressing interest in racing at Le Mans in 2015,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “In the end, we chose two groups who earned the right through outstanding performance in Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup events. Wayne Taylor Racing won the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, while Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell – who join Scuderia Corsa for the 2015 season – won the GT Daytona category in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the overall Patrón Endurance Cup this past season.
“Both of these programs will be outstanding representatives of IMSA and the TUDOR Championship at Le Mans.”
With its Konica Minolta Corvette DP that finished second in the 2014 TUDOR Championship Prototype standings not eligible to compete at Le Mans, Wayne Taylor Racing is working to partner with a European team to field an entry in the LM P2 class.
“It was really a pleasant surprise, and now we’re working hard to put it all together,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “We’ve got to find an LM P2 car for Le Mans, and we’re finding a lot of interest from the European teams to help me putting a car in play.”
Unlike Wayne Taylor Racing’s predicament, Scuderia Corsa will have no problem finding a car. While the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell in the TUDOR Championship is not eligible, Sweedler owns a Ferrari F458 Italia that he formerly co-drove with Bell for Alex Job Racing in ALMS competition. That car is eligible to be used in the GTE Am class.
“When Townsend and I won at Sebring back in 2012, that started the wheels in motion about getting to Le Mans,” Sweedler said. “When we raced the Ferrari 458 in 2013, we knew that car was a spectacular platform in the World Endurance Championship, and we thought we would eventually get the opportunity get over and compete.
“The fact that we can get to do it through an invitation directly from IMSA is even sweeter for us, and to be able to represent the series that we compete in fulltime at what we consider the greatest endurance event in the world is just spectacular. We are thrilled that IMSA helped bring this to fruition.”
For 2016, IMSA will extend its automatic entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the top finishing Pro-Am points finishers in the Prototype and GT Le Mans classes.
“Our colleagues at the ACO have expressed a desire for more North American content at Le Mans, and we couldn’t agree more,” Atherton said. “It’s safe to assume the two-car Corvette Racing program will be back again in 2015, and we’re working with a few others who have reached out for our assistance to expand our Le Mans presence even further next season.”
Among a number of full-time TUDOR Championship competitors to compete at Le Mans in 2014, Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella earned a GTE Pro class victory as part of the AF Corse Ferrari team.