IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship fans will once again have plenty of favorites to cheer for in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15-16.
The Le Mans field will have 28 regular IMSA drivers and eight cars representing the WeatherTech Championship, including 15 drivers with at least one previous Le Mans victory. Corvette Racing leads the contingent of IMSA teams with eight Le Mans victories. The last victory there by an IMSA team was the 2016 Ford Chip Ganassi win.
Corvette’s bid to pick up a ninth Le Mans victory got off to a good start with last Sunday’s test day. The No. 63 Corvette C7.R shared by 2017 and 2018 WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia and their endurance racing teammate, Mike Rockenfeller, posted the fastest time of the GTE Pro class at 3 minutes, 54.001 seconds around the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
“Yes, we were fastest today, but I don’t think that means anything,” said Garcia on Sunday after Rockenfeller’s quick lap. “I don’t know what the other teams are doing, so we need to wait until race week to see where everything is exactly. This is a good starting point. We all hope the package we bring to the race will be enough.”
Right behind the No. 63 was the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GT, which has a pair of WeatherTech Championship full-time teammates in its driver lineup. Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito – who share the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P in the WeatherTech Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi class) – make up two-thirds of the No. 67 Ford’s driver lineup alongside Andy Priaulx.
The No. 67’s best lap at the test was 3:54.032. Corvette Racing’s No. 64 C7.R shared by 2016 GTLM champions Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin – who is also a five-time Le Mans winner – and their endurance racing teammate, Marcel Fassler, was third in GTE Pro at 3:54.036.
The GTE Am class also was led on the test day by WeatherTech Championship regulars. The No. 62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE topped the class charts in the hands of Toni Vilander with a lap of 3:56.862. Vilander shares the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 with Cooper MacNeil in the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class. That duo will be paired at Le Mans alongside British driver Robert Smith.
“Great day,” said Vilander, a two-time Le Mans class winner. “It is a great feeling to be back at Le Mans. It is a special racetrack. We have a new car and sometimes you worry that things won’t go so well, but that was not the case today. We wanted to put in a good lap time to confirm our preparation. We confirmed the WeatherTech Ferrari is good.”
Here’s a complete breakdown of IMSA regulars participating in the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15-16:
No. 10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1-Gibson – Renger van der Zande
No. 22 United Autosports Ligier JSP217-Gibson – Filipe Albuquerque
No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217-Gibson – Will Owen
No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07-Gibson – Ricky Taylor
No. 63 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Jan Magnussen (4 wins – GTS: 2004; GT1: 2005, 2006, 2009), Antonio Garcia (3 wins – GT1: 2008, 2009; GTE Pro: 2011)
No. 64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Oliver Gavin (5 wins – GTS: 2002, 2004; GT1: 2005, 2006; GTE Pro: 2015), Tommy Milner (2 wins – GTE Pro: 2011, 2015)
No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GT – Harry Tincknell (1 win – LMP2: 2014), Jonathan Bomarito
No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing USA Ford GT – Joey Hand (1 win – GTE Pro: 2016), Dirk Mueller (1 win – GTE Pro: 2016), Sebastien Bourdais (1 win – GTE Pro: 2016)
No. 69 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing USA Ford GT – Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook
No. 82 BMW Team Mtek BMW M8 GTE – Jesse Krohn
No. 89 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE – Pipo Derani, Oliver Jarvis (1 win – LMP2: 2017)
No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – Laurens Vanthoor (1 win – GTE Pro: 2018)
No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Pilet, Earl Bamber (2 wins – Overall/LMP1: 2015, 2017), Nick Tandy (1 win – Overall/LMP1: 2015)
No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Lindsey
No. 62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE – Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander (2 wins – GTE Pro: 2012, 2014)
No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ford GT – Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen (1 win - LMP2: 2008)
No. 99 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Long (2 wins - GT: 2004, GT2: 2007)
Bold – Denotes full-time IMSA team