The AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Prototype team has nominated Texan Will Owen and Mexican Jose Gutierrez to complete its roster alongside Sebastian Saavedra for IMSA’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans season finale.
Both Owen and Gutierrez have driven for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team in the past, and following the program’s troubled debut in Monterey with its new ORECA 07-Gibson chassis, a smooth run at Road Atlanta would be a welcome ending to a crash-filled year.
“I’m looking forward to an amazing event at Petit,” Saavedra said. “This will be my first time racing at this track and my first time working with this lineup of teammates with Jose and Will. Overall, we are looking to continue our evolution of the team and the car, the ORECA LMP2. We had our first test a few days ago and we are going into the event prepared. It’s been an honor and a pleasure working with this organization and I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong and what’s to come of 2019.”
Absent from the lineup is Gustavo Yacaman, who partnered with Saavedra through the most recent stop at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Late in the Monterey race, Yacaman clashed with Mazda Team Joest’s Harry Tincknell who held a convincing lead. Despite being one lap down, and despite radio warnings from the team to let the Mazda pass without a fight, Yacaman managed to collide with Tincknell, sending the Mazda into a race-losing spin. The incident, which was the latest in a costly string of errors, appeared to signal the end of the Colombian’s time inside the car this season.
“I am very happy to rejoin AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports for Petit Le Mans,” Owens said. “I have never driven Road Atlanta, which is kind of like saying I haven’t truly experienced racing in the US. Being able to add this difficult event and track to my repertoire has been something I have wanted to do for a while now.
“I am also excited to drive the ORECA LMP2 chassis that the team is now using. It may take some time to adapt and learn how its different than what I’m used to, but the opportunity to feel the strengths and weaknesses of another car is one I would never pass up. It will be great to race on the same team as my friend Jose who I haven’t raced with in a few years. I’m sure he, Sebastian, and I will make a good team. I am confident in the team and our ability to get a good result together.”
Gutierrez went for a wild ride last year in the PR1 Ligier JS P217, ending the race parked with the nose pointed toward the sky after a high-speed crash. He’s hoping for a less dramatic outcome to the festivities on October 13 in Road Atlanta.
“We have a very strong lineup and I think we can give a very good result for the team,” he said. “I won at Petit two years ago [in PC] and have good memories of that track. Bobby wants to give me another shot and I’ll do my best to deliver. It will be my first time racing with my friend, Will Owen. We are best mates and we are going to work great together I can’t wait to start going.”