New Partnership with Proton Competition to Field Season-Long Entry
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Porsche will remain a part of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) landscape in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, following the announcement Wednesday that WeatherTech Racing and Proton Competition will campaign a Porsche 911 RSR for the entire 2021 season.
The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche will debut in the class later this month in the prestigious season opener, the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Drivers for the 24-hour race at Daytona International Speedway’s road course will be Cooper MacNeil – the team’s full-season driver – along with Porsche works drivers Richard Lietz, Kevin Estre and Gianmaria Bruni.
"We have put a lot of thought into this move," MacNeil said. "I have raced against this level of competition at Le Mans twice, most recently this year, and have felt comfortable with the added performance of the car. We are going back to running a Porsche, and I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the 911 RSR. It will be more pressure on me as a driver, but I am welcoming the added effort it is going to take to run GTLM in 2021."
WeatherTech Racing has been part of the IMSA scene since 2012, capturing American Le Mans Series GTC championships in 2012 and 2013. It most recently competed in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the WeatherTech Championship, with a win at the Motul Petit Le Mans last October.
Proton Competition makes the move to the WeatherTech Championship following successful competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series. The agreement also will see the team apply for entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class.
"We have been looking at entering the IMSA WeatherTech Championship for a few years," said Christian Ried, Proton Competition owner. "We just didn’t feel like the time was right until now. With the factory effort leaving, that left a void for Porsche in GTLM. We were able to get together with David and Cooper (MacNeil) to keep the Porsche brand racing at the top level of GT competition in IMSA. I am looking forward to the challenge and am excited to add IMSA to our racing schedule in 2021."
The Porsche GT Team closed its GTLM operations following the 2020 WeatherTech Championship season, concluding a highly competitive seven-year run that saw the team claim victory in its debut at the 2014 Rolex 24, collect a pair of season titles (2015, 2019) and win its final three races of 2020. Estre and Bruni each held part-time driving roles for the team between 2016 and 2018.
"We raced with Christian at Le Mans in 2016, so we have an on-track history," MacNeil said. "I am looking forward to running the Rolex 24 with Richard, Kevin and Gimmi. Proton has a great endurance racing history, and Porsche is always competitive at Daytona."
WeatherTech Championship action begins with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 from Jan. 22-24, providing teams and drivers the chance to test on the 3.56-mile road course and compete in the Motul Pole Award 100, the qualifying race that will set the Rolex 24 starting grid. Race week for the Rolex 24 runs Jan. 27-31, with the 24-hour race set to start at 3:40 p.m. ET Saturday, Jan. 30.