Kern, Merrill and Eastwood Will Bolster the Two-Car Effort at Daytona and Other Endurance Races
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — AWA announced three additions to the driver lineups for the team’s two-car Corvette entry in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class entries for the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. Full-season co-drivers Orey Fidani and Matt Bell will once again be joined by Lars Kern for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, with their Rolex 24 at Daytona co-driver to be confirmed at a later date. Meanwhile, Anthony Mantella and Nico Varrone will be accompanied by Thomas Merrill in the endurance races, with Charlie Eastwood completing the lineup at the Rolex 24 that opens the 2024 season on Jan. 27-28.
Kern returns with AWA following a successful 2023 season that included Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) podium finishes at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans. After two seasons competing in prototype classes, the German driver is eager to return to his roots in the GTD class.
“This is a very special opportunity to be returning to the GTD class following my past two years competing in LMP3,” Kern said. “I’m incredibly happy to be back with AWA and to be driving with Orey Fidani and Matt Bell again. We have a strong relationship and it means a lot to me that we are taking this next step together. I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R and experience it first hand. This brand and manufacturer has accumulated so many incredible achievements and accomplishments over the years, and I hope to be able to contribute to some more.”
California native Merrill has already contributed to one of AWA’s most prized victories, winning the LMP3 class at this year’s Rolex 24 with Mantella, Varrone and Wayne Boyd. He serves as a great addition to the endurance races, with his prior experience competing in GTD with various manufacturers serving as a great asset.
“I’m totally stoked to be back with Anthony Mantella, Nico Varrone and AWA in 2024,” Merrill said. “It’s amazing to be a part of the Corvette program, and I’m proud to be representing the Stars and Stripes both in and out of the car. Racing a Corvette in IMSA has always been a dream of mine. It’s going to be a hugely exciting year ahead with my teammates Anthony, Nico and Charlie Eastwood; we’re a real dream team. I can’t wait to get started!”
The newest addition to the team, Eastwood, comes equipped with a significant and impressive racing resume. The Corvette factory driver from Northern Ireland has competed in a wide variety of championships on an international level and accumulated wins and podiums at some of the most demanding and challenging endurance races in the world.
Eastwood is a highly accomplished competitor, with career highlights spanning across numerous championships. He took home the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class title this year in the Asian Le Mans Series, as well as the LMP2 Pro-Am championship title in the 2022 European Le Mans Series. Additionally, Eastwood has taken home the win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMGTE Am class in 2020, as well as winning the 24 Hours of Spa the year prior.