Continuity in the Team Has Drivers Mike Skeen and Mikael Grenier Eyeing Bigger Things in 2024
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Considering the team has only been in existence for two years, Korthoff/Preston Motorsports has already accomplished quite a bit in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The debut season saw the team charge from the starting gate with GT Daytona (GTD) podium showings in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to open the 2022 campaign. Full-season driver Stevan McAleer and the No. 32 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished third in the championship, just 39 points shy of winning.
KPM followed that this year by capturing the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup crown with the full-season driver pairing of Mike Skeen and Mikael Grenier and endurance driver Kenton Koch. Now, with a stable lineup behind the wheel and behind the scenes, the sights are set higher for 2024. Goals for the upcoming season are collecting the team’s first race wins and again bidding for the GTD title.
Skeen returns for his third season with KPM. He drove all but one race with McAleer in 2022 and paired with Grenier for the full ’23 schedule. That same duo is back for all of ’24, with Koch resuming his role for the five endurance races and Mercedes driver Maximilian Goetz joining for the Rolex 24 in January.
The continuity in the cockpit is great, Skeen said, but just as important is the continuity of crew and staff. The outfit founded by Herb Korthoff has been diligent when it comes to placing the right personnel in the right positions.
“There’s been a lot of changeover of people and stuff trying to find the right combination,” Skeen said. “This last year we definitely found that group where it’s really starting to click. Most of that is carrying over to next year, so we’ll have some consistency that we can build on.”
The backbone of that staff consistency is veteran team manager Walt Preston, whose significance to the operation was exemplified when his surname was added to the team’s name midway through 2023.
“He’s basically the guy running the show now,” Skeen said of Preston, whose racing résumé goes back five decades. “The car’s out of his shop, he’s team manager and engineer basically. He’s got his hands on just about everything under the program. He’s been with so many high-level quality teams over so many years of working in motorsports that he’s seen the good and the bad, and he knows what works and what doesn’t. He can really guide the program.”
KPM’s high points in 2023 came with a pair of third-place results at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America. The No. 32 Mercedes-AMG led the most GTD laps in both the Rolex 24 and Twelve Hours of Sebring but finished out of contention due to mechanical (broken wheel bearing at Daytona) or strategy miscues. Grenier still considers those races his season highlights “even if we didn’t win because I think we just did really nice races.
“At Daytona,” he added, “even when the wheel bearing broke, we kept going after and the pace was still there, and we had no scratch on the car after 24 hours. The podium in Mosport – the only Canadian race and I’m from Canada – that was quite fun. My family was there. And the podium at Road America as well. I think we improved a lot over the season.”
Grenier also chuckled about KPM winning the Michelin Endurance Cup, which awards points for race position at different junctures throughout each of the longer races, without the No. 32 winning a race.
“Winning the endurance title at the end was the goal for the team, so that was a great way to end the season,” he said. “I think we could have won the race but we decided to do a different strategy for the last two hours (at Motul Petit Le Mans) to get maximum points.”
Skeen believes the endurance title has built momentum that can carry into the ’24 season that, as usual, opens with the longest endurance race of them all.
“It was a big goal of ours getting towards the end of the year to finish (the Michelin Endurance Cup) off strong, even to the point that we sacrificed a little bit the race results just to get the championship and secure that,” he said. “That was definitely a highlight and something to kind of hang our hats on.
“Two years ago, we finished on the podium at Daytona. Being able to fight for the win there would be really big for us and get the season started off well, and hopefully carry momentum from there.”