DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans class field will be looking to end the three-race win streak held by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, as the series returns to Lime Rock Park for the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix on July 23.
IMSA has released a 32-car entry for the event, which will be televised live on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. ET on race day.
Factory teams from BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche will battle on the historic 1.5-mile circuit in a two-hour, 40-minute race, joining the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes in round eight of the 2016 Weather Championship season.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing carries plenty of momentum into the event, riding their impressive GTLM winning streak with the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe – who now resides in nearby Farmington, Conn. – into the event.
In addition, the No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller won the GTE class in the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I’m two-for-two at Lime Rock, so I can’t complain,” said Briscoe, a P2 winner in American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón competition at Lime Rock in 2007 and 2013. “It’s a fun little track – unique to our championship. We’re extremely busy with traffic, which adds a new dynamic.”
“I think the GTLM cars will put on a strong show – as usual – with everyone close in performance. Two hours, 40 minutes there in the middle of July will probably be the most physical race we’ll have all year – a feat of endurance, fitness and concentration.”
BMW won the GT class in two of the three most recent ALMS races at Lime Rock races. Mueller and John Edwards won in 2013, co-driving a BMW Z4, while Mueller and Hand co-drove a BMW M3 to victory in 2011. For 2016, the team has a pair of new BMW M6 GTLMs.
Edwards and Lucas Luhr – a three-time P1 class winner at the circuit – have the No. 100 IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM, while Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner will share the No. 25.
Corvette Racing is a four-time ALMS winner at Lime Rock. Oliver Gavin – who co-drives the No. 4 Corvette C7.R with Tommy Milner – won in 2004, 2005 and 2007, while Jan Magnussen – who shares the No. 3 with Antonio Garcia – won in 2008.
Porsche won the leading GT class in the ALMS three times at Lime Rock, with current GTD driver Joerg Bergmeister joining in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 triumphs. Porsche North America returns with the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and 2015 GTLM champion Patrick Pilet and the No. 912 of Earl Bamber and Frederic Makowiecki.
Ferrari’s race will be championed by the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander. The pair finished second in the GTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Turner Motorsport, based in Amesbury, Mass., takes winning momentum to its home track in the GTD class. Bret Curtis and Jens Klingmann won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to score the first U.S. victory for the BMW M6 GT3. Turner also enters the race as the defending winners, capturing victory in last year’s race with Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron.
Curtis and Klingmann share the No. 96 Spectra Resources/United Steel/Valspar Paint/IHG Rewards Club entry, with Palttala and Michael Marsal co-driving the No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal BMW.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports returns with Tom Kimber-Smith to defend its victory in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. Kimber-Smith and co-driver Robert Alon won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, among five podium finishes this season in the No. 52 Professional Security Consultants/Westfield ORECA FLM09, and are second in the PC standings.
Jon Bennett and Colin Braun are coming off a PC class victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the No. 54 CORE autosport Flex-Box/Composite Resources/Crowdstrike ORECA. They were winners at Lime Rock in 2012.
CREDIT: IMSA Communications