Era Returns LMP2 Lineup Intact; Vasser Sullivan Names GTD Drivers; G-Drive Making Rolex 24 Debut; High Class Adds Mueller for Rolex 24
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Era Motorsport, the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) winner of the 2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona, will return to competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the 2022 season with its lineup intact. Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel will be the full-season drivers of the No. 18 ORECA LMP2 07, while team owner Kyle Tilley will serve as the endurance driver in the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races and Paul-Loup Chatin returns for the 60th running of the Rolex 24 in January.
“It’s great to be getting the band back together for 2022 in IMSA,” Merriman said. “We really hit our stride as a team as the season progressed, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in this approaching race season. I’m thrilled to be having Ryan alongside me for the full season, and it’ll be great to still have Kyle around for the endurance events. Winning the Rolex 24 was such an amazing experience, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Daytona so we can defend that win and have a great 2022.”
In addition to the Rolex 24 victory, Merriman and Dalziel also won this year at Road America and – with Tilley – finished second at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
“Our third season in IMSA promises to be one of our biggest challenges yet,” team owner Tilley said. “With an influx of teams to IMSA LMP2 competition, the level has certainly been raised. Whilst I’m going to miss being one of the full-season drivers in our No. 18 ORECA, it is the right decision for the business and the LMP2 team as a whole, as we strive to build our brand ahead of LMDh. That said, I am delighted to be able to stay as the third (driver) for the Michelin Endurance Cup and to defend our victory at the Rolex 24.”
Telitz, Montecalvo, Heistand to Pilot No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus in GTD
Vasser Sullivan announced that Aaron Telitz, Frankie Montecalvo and Richard Heistand will drive the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class for the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. The team’s No. 14 Lexus was previously named to compete in the new GTD PRO class.
“It’s with great excitement we unveil that Aaron, Frankie and Richard will pilot the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF GT3 as we set our sights on the 2022 IMSA GTD class championship,” team principals Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan said in a joint statement. “Individually, Aaron, Frankie and Richard each have wins and podiums with our organization, so it made sense to band them together as co-drivers. We’ve got a lot of faith in these guys collectively to lead us to a championship and our recent Daytona test confirmed we’ve made the right choice.”
Telitz will be competing in his fourth IMSA season for Vasser Sullivan. He ran the 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup before becoming a fulltime driver of the No. 14 Lexus in 2020, where he and Jack Hawksworth scored three wins, five podiums and three pole positions on their way to winning the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup. This year, Telitz and Hawksworth finished seventh in the season championship with one race win.
Montecalvo will also be contesting his fourth season with Vasser Sullivan. He had a breakout season in 2020, capturing his first win (Road America) and two pole positions. In 2021, Montecalvo co-drove the No. 12 Lexus to eighth in the final GTD standings.
Heistand returns to Vasser Sullivan after driving for the team in 2019. He captured the team’s first pole that year at Mid-Ohio and co-drove with Hawksworth to the team’s first two victories.
“I’m thrilled to be taking the reins of the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 for Vasser Sullivan,” Telitz said. “I started my IMSA career in the (No.) 12 car before moving to the (No.) 14 and it’s been an amazing two years of fulltime running with Jack in GTD. Now, Frankie and I are reuniting to lead the (No.) 12 side in GTD for Vasser Sullivan and Lexus. We’ve got Richard on board as the endurance driver, which is big, too, as we have three guys who all have experience in the RC F and know what it takes to win in it. Huge thanks to Jimmy and Sulli, and everyone at Lexus for putting their faith in me once again. I can’t wait to get to work in Daytona next month!”
G-Drive Racing Set to Debut in Rolex 24 with Two LMP2 Entries
G-Drive Racing by APR will make its Rolex 24 debut next month with two cars in the LMP2 class, with two-time Rolex 24 winner Rene Rast leading the driver lineup. Rast drove for G-Drive in 2016, finishing second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winning the FIA World Endurance Championship title.
Rast was the GT class winner at the Rolex 24 in 2012 and GTD champion in 2016. He will drive the No. 68 ORECA for the Russian team along with former IndyCar driver Ed Jones, French sportscar racer François Heriau and 21-year-old Dane Oliver Rasmussen, who will make his sports car debut at the legendary event.
The team’s No. 69 entry will be driven by John Falb, Luca Ghiotto, James Allen and 17-year-old Tijmen van der Helm.
“We continue to actively prepare for the 2022 season, which will be very eventful for our team,” said Roman Rusinov, G-Drive Racing team principal. “It will start overseas with the legendary 24-hour endurance race in Daytona. G-Drive Racing has been the most successful team in the LMP2 class over the last decade, so the interest in our first participation in the Daytona 24 Hours was very high.
“As always, we carefully approached the choice of drivers, and I think we have assembled the best possible team, which is a mix of youth and experience. I am especially glad that my friend Rene Rast has returned to our team. His speed, experience and past success at Daytona make him extremely valuable for the team and I’m sure we have all ingredients for victory in this iconic event.”
High Class Racing Rounds out Rolex 24 Lineup with Audi Driver Mueller
High Class Racing named Nico Mueller as its fourth driver for the 2022 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The 29-year-old Swiss driver will join fellow countryman Fabio Scherer and full-season drivers Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen behind the wheel of the team’s ORECA LMP2 07.
It will mark Mueller’s Rolex 24 debut and his first outing in an LMP2 car since 2017. Mueller is an Audi works driver and is a two-time runner-up in the DTM touring car series (2019 and 2020). He has been named to be part of Audi’s LMDh program for 2023.
“I’m really excited to be part of the High Class Racing Daytona effort together with fellow Swiss Fabio and the two Danish rockets (Fjordbach and Andersen), so I think we’ll gonna make a great Swiss-Danish team with lots of red and white, and hopefully we can be successful together,” Mueller said. “I’m pretty confident that we have a good team around us, a good lineup and looking forward to share my first Rolex 24 At Daytona together with High Class Racing and these three drivers.”
Previous 2022 WeatherTech Championship Team/Driver Announcements
Daytona Prototype international (DPi)
Action Express Racing: No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, drivers Pipo Derani and Tristan Nunez (story here)
Chip Ganassi Racing: Two Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, drivers Earl Bamber, Sebastien Bourdais, Alex Lynn and Renger van der Zande (story here)
JDC-Miller MotorSports: No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi V.R, drivers Tristan Vautier, Richard Westbrook, Loic Duval and Ben Keating (story here)
Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian: No. 60 Acura ARX-05, drivers Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist and Helio Castroneves (story here)
Wayne Taylor Racing: No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, drivers Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi (story here)
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2)
DragonSpeed: No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 for full season except Rolex 24 At Daytona, drivers Henrik Hedman, Juan Pablo Montoya and Sebastian Montoya (story here)
High Class Racing: ORECA LMP2 07, drivers Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen (story here)
Racing Team Nederland: No. 29 ORECA LMP2 07 for IMSA Michelin Endurance cup races, drivers Fritz van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde, Dylan Murry and Rinus VeeKay (story here)
United Autosports: No. 22 ORECA LMP2 07 for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races, drivers Jim McGuire, Guy Smith, Phil Hanson and Will Owen (story here)
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3)
Andretti Autosport: No. 36 Ligier JS P320, drivers Jarett Andretti, Josh Burdon, Gabby Chaves and Rasmus Lindh (story here)
AWA: No. 13 Duqueine D08, drivers Kuno Wittmer, Orey Fidani, Lars Kern and Matt Bell (story here)
Jr III Racing: No. 30 Ligier JS P320, drivers Ari Balogh and Garett Grist (story here)
GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO)
BMW Team RLL: Two BMW M4 GT3s, drivers to be named (story here)
Corvette Racing: No. 3 Corvette C8.R, drivers Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg (story here); No. 4 Corvette C8.R for Rolex 24 At Daytona, drivers Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Marco Sorensen (story here)
Pfaff Motorsports: No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3R, drivers Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr (story here)
TR3 Racing: No. 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO for Rolex 24 At Daytona, drivers Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli (story here)
Vasser Sullivan Racing: No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, drivers Ben Barnicoat, Jack Hawksworth and Kyle Kirkwood (story here)
GT Daytona (GTD)
CarBahn with Peregrine Racing: No. 39 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, drivers Jeff Westphal and Robert Megennis (story here)
Cetilar Racing: No. 47 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races, drivers Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Antonio Fuoco and Alessio Rovera (story here)
Magnus Racing: No. 44 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, drivers to be named (story here)
TR3 Racing: No. 19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO for Rolex 24 At Daytona , drivers Jeff Segal, Bill Sweedler, John Megrue and Giacomo Altoe (story here)
Wright Motorsports: No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R, drivers Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen and Zacharie Robichon (story here)