For many IMSA teams, the 2018 racing year ended with the season finale at Road Atlanta last weekend. However, teams from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge have the advantage of competing at the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway on Nov. 9-11, which will feature a four-hour race with LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR race cars. They will be competing for a $10,000 winner’s prize and a $5,000 Michelin tire credit to apply for the 2019 season. It is also an opportunity to get experience on the new-for-2019 Michelin tires.
“We are going to use the Encore race as a test session for next season,” said KohR Motorsports team owner Dean Martin. “It should give us some insight into what the car is going to want with the Michelin tires for Sebring in 2019. We’re trying to get a leg up on 2019 because we are very disappointed with our finishing position in the team championship this year (second) and we’re not going to let that happen again next year.”
Martin will field two Ford Mustang GT4s at the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore and plans to have a little fun, as he’ll pilot one of the cars alongside 2018 full-season drivers Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy. This will be Martin’s first time in the driver’s seat since taking two wins and an additional podium finish in seven races back in 2017.
GMG Racing, led by James Sofronas, returns to the IMSA field with an Audi R8 LMS GT4 after contesting the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona earlier this season. Sofronas will co-drive the car with Audi Sport customer racer Jason Bell.
“The upcoming Encore at Sebring will be an event like no other, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it with Jason Bell,” added Sofronas. “The event will welcome a new tire partnership that marks a new era ahead of IMSA’s 50th Anniversary, and the first preliminary run of the new Michelin Pilot Challenge (what the series will be known as in 2019) will be a great way to see what the series has on offer, and of course at one of the most iconic circuits, Sebring International Raceway.
“Jason should be a great addition. Sebring requires a great combination of patience and aggression, and I’m sure he’ll love it. Our Audi R8 LMS GT4 will be really matched there, so we’re aiming to be quick right out of the box.”
One of the TCR cars in the field will be 2018 entrant Rumcastle Racing, a family-run operation spearheaded by Jerod Rumburg. Brothers Tanner and Luke Rumburg will be behind the wheel at Sebring, where they recorded their best finish this season of second place.
“We simply love Sebring, and it’s heritage,” said Jerod Rumburg, “And we are looking forward to trying out the new tires. It’s always great to race when given a chance like this.”
The IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore will kick off with two days of practice and qualifying on the 3.74-mile circuit before Sunday’s race at 12 p.m. ET. Teams are allowed a minimum of two and a maximum of three drivers per car. Platinum-rated drivers are prohibited, and each car may have a maximum of one gold-rated driver, which cannot participate in qualifying.