Petit Le Mans pre-race news and notes

Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Petit Le Mans pre-race news and notes


Petit Le Mans pre-race news and notes


Race day for Motul Petit Le Mans, the finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, has dawned cool and partly cloudy, leaving nice conditions to test the setup for the end of the race in the morning warmup. There is a low chance of rain, which decreases to zero for the closing hours.

Loic Duval set the quick time in morning warmup in the JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac at 1m10.406s. Mikkel Jensen led LMP2 in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, while LMP3 polesitter Kay van Berlo led that class for Riley Motorsports. Corvette Racing’s Nicky Catsburg led GTD PRO at 1m19.919s, and Marco Holzer was quick in the NTE/SSR Lamborghini Huracán to head GTD.

Wayne Taylor Racing considering tire options
Wayne Taylor Racing is mulling its tire options after Ricky Taylor’s spin in qualifying yesterday that heavily flatspotted three tires. The regulations require each car to start on the same tires on which it qualified, allowing one tire to be changed. If more than one are replaced, both the qualifying position and qualifying points are forfeited. While starting at the back of the seven-car field wouldn’t be disastrous in a 10-hour race, losing 30 points would put the No. 10 Acura team on the back foot for winning the championship.

The odds are on Even
Wayne Taylor has a history of winning this race in even years, winning in 2014, ’18 and ’20. The missing even year in that sequence? 2016’s race, won by 2022 title rivals Meyer Shank Racing.

Save it for the end
Last year, Heart of Racing’s Ian James was blunt after the team’s GTD victory at Petit Le Mans: We set the car up for the night. Like Sebring, Petit Le Mans runs most of its race in daylight, but finishes in the cool conditions of nighttime. There’s no question that the handling characteristics of the car will change. It’s a balance of being quick at the end, but not having a car you hate for the first seven hours of the race. Survive the day, race the night.

“You have to look for the finish, right?” said GTD PRO driver Jack Hawksworth, who will start the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 on pole today. “But to get to the finish, you have to concentrate on each hour by hour. We know the race is won at the end, but it can be lost in the first six or seven hours, right? So we have to just take it step by step and we have to avoid what’s going to be … there’s no doubt about it, there’s gonna be carnage, and we just need to try avoid that for the first six, seven hours. Make good decisions on pit lane. make good decisions on the track and build up to that crescendo, which will be the last two hours.”

Does Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 GT3 have one last success in it? Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Risi hoping to send off Ferrari 488 with victory
Risi Racing’s Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon are in the hunt for the Michelin Endurance Cup GTD PRO title as they see the Ferrari 488 GT3 off in its final race, joined by James Calado. Ferrari is introducing the new 296 as its GT3 racer for 2023, and they aim to send the 488 into retirement in style.

“This is one of my favorite races,” declared Serra. “I enjoy a lot the track. It’s really nice to drive here, the track is quite challenging — you need to take a lot of risks to be fast. So for a driver is really nice. I think it is one of the important races of the year, Petit, so it’s always nice to be here. Last time we were here in 2019 we won it with Risi.”

Banners in support of Stevan McAleer and Mike Skeen, competing with Team Korthoff Motorsports in GTD, have appeared around Road Atlanta. Both redheads, the banners are reminiscent of the Wonderbread logo, only they reference “Gingerbread.” The pair and their team have been a revelation this season producing solid results, and McAleer comes into the finale with a chance of winning the championship. McAleer and Skeen are joined by German Dirk Mueller in the No. 32 Mercedes-AMG for Petit Le Mans.

“We had a good result at Sebring and Daytona and I think we have a good package to be in the fight at the end of the race. Our goal is to stay out of trouble for nine hours,” said McAleer before the race. 

Racing on two continents in one weekend
Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe is going to race the first two hours in the GTD-class No. 70 McLaren, fulfill his drivetime requirements, then jet off to Barcelona to race tomorrow in a GT World Challenge Europe race. Should Jordan Pepper and Seb Priaulx pull off a victory, he’ll be celebrating long distance.