WeatherTech Racing will compete in the GTD PRO category in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella driving the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Maro Engel will join for the endurance races with Cooper MacNeil coming onboard for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
MacNeil, who has been a centerpiece of the team, will run a reduced schedule and will take on more of a management role with the team throughout season. The Proton Competition crew, headed by Christian Ried, will once again direct the program.
“We are happy to announce that Jules and Dani will be running with us for the full IMSA WeatherTech Championship in 2023,” MacNeil said. “I consider them to be among the best Mercedes-AMG GT drivers in the world. Last year we had a parade of drivers through the car and couldn’t really compete for the championship. Maro will join us for the longer races and adds a wealth of knowledge to the team. With our strong support from Mercedes-AMG, those three guys driving the car, and WeatherTech/Proton Racing spearheading the operation, I like our chances every weekend in the GTD PRO class.”
Frenchman Gounon had a very strong 2022, winning the Spa 24 Hour, Bathurst 12 Hour, Kyalami 9 Hour, and the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship. He was teamed with Spaniard Juncadella for many of those races. Both drivers had a couple of outings with WeatherTech Racing last season.
“I’m amazed and thankful to Cooper and David MacNeil to trust Dani and myself to take over the No. 79 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA GTD PRO Class for 2023,” Gounon said. “We will give it our all to get the WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the front and get a big trophy at the end of the year. I think the lineup we have with Dani and Maro is very strong, and we will be very good with Cooper at the Rolex 24 as well. We all complete each other in different areas. We really make a great team. I really enjoy their company and am looking forward to a great year.”
Juncadella just wrapped up the Intercontinental GT Challenge last weekend, and won the Spa 24 Hour, GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship with Gounon in addition to the Indianapolis 8 Hour.
“ I am super excited. Next year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting chapters of my career,” Juncadella said. “It was a last-minute call for Daytona last year and then it turned into a couple more races with Cooper in the WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was fun. It was surprising to me — I discovered IMSA is one of the most exciting championships happening around the globe right now.
“It is great that we have managed to get our deal together to run the whole season with Jules for 2023 and WeatherTech Racing. On top of that, having Maro in the car for the endurance races and Cooper for the Rolex 24 puts the cherry on top. We start with the big race first, the Rolex 24. We were competitive last year; we now have to bring it to the finish line.”
In 2022, WeatherTech Racing started the season in the GTD PRO category — the only team to run Mercedes-AMG in the class — before switching to GTD. With two pro factory drivers in the car, it will be the first Mercedes-AMG to contest the class in its sophomore year.