We’re just a month away from the start of the 2020 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which officially kicks off the first week of January with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Teams, drivers and manufacturers had a little break for the Thanksgiving holiday and will get another one around Christmas, but other than that, it’s going to be flat out right up until the Roar — and actually all the way up to the start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday, Jan. 25.
There has been a fair amount of movement in the driver and team ranks with lineup changes announced for 2020. Here’s a quick look and what’s been confirmed so far:
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac confirms Derani, Nasr for full season
The first announcement of 2020 plans actually came the week of the season finale, as Whelen Engineering Racing announced the return of Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr as full season co-drivers of its No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R on Oct. 8.
The big news in that announcement was that Filipe Albuquerque, who was a full-time driver of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac alongside Joao Barbosa for the previous two seasons, was joining the No. 31 team for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds in what is anticipated to be the only Action Express Racing-fielded entry for 2020.
Magnussen exploring other opportunities
During the week after the 2019 WeatherTech Championship season concluded, Corvette Racing confirmed that one of the all-time greats in IMSA competition, Danish racer Jan Magnussen, would be moving on from the team and exploring other opportunities in 2020.
“Everyone at Corvette Racing thanks Jan for his years of dedication and professionalism during the last 16 years,” said Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports, Jim Campbell. “Jan has been a key part of the growth and success of Corvette Racing. His experience and insight have been invaluable. We hold Jan in the highest regard and wish him well in the next chapter of his career.”
McMurry joining Farnbacher in MSR Acura NSX GT3
In a combination of 2019 WeatherTech Championship titlists, LMP2 champion Matt McMurry was announced as the new co-driver of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 alongside Mario Farnbacher, who won the 2019 GT Daytona (GTD) title co-driving with Trent Hindman. McMurry previously drove for the team when it fielded an LMP2 car in 2015.
“It’s an honor to be selected to join the Meyer Shank Racing team again,” McMurry said. “I can’t imagine a better place to be for the 2020 season than in an Acura NSX GT3 EVO at MSR.”
“I’m excited to be back with the Meyer Shank Racing guys next year,” added Farnbacher. “We had a great 2019 season and we will head into 2020 with the same goal.”
Kyle Busch to compete in 2020 Rolex 24 in AIM Vasser Sullivan
At the time of the announcement, Busch only had one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title on his résumé. But the now two-time champion will make his Rolex 24 At Daytona debut in January.
“I’d like to thank everyone at Lexus Motorsports, AIM Vasser Sullivan and Toyota for this opportunity,” Busch said. “To have the chance to run in such an iconic race as the Rolex 24 is certainly something I’ve thought about and wanted to do. My partnership with Toyota and the history we’ve had together is incredible. I would love to continue that history and maybe get my own Daytona Rolex to add to my trophy collection.”
Era Motorsport Commits to LMP2 Entry for 2020 Rolex 24
Era Motorsport – which has been a stalwart of historic racing – announced plans to compete in the LMP2 class in the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, fielding an ORECA entry for team principal/driver Kyle Tilley and other drivers still to be named. The program is being run in partnership with longtime LMP2 competitors, DragonSpeed.
“We’re very excited to confirm that we’ll be joining the IMSA ranks in 2020 for the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” Tilley said. “We weren’t expecting to have to confirm the news so soon, but we’re thrilled there’s such media interest in our team.”
Acura Team Penske Returns with same drivers
When your two cars finish first and third in the DPi championship standings, there’s no reason to change much and that’s exactly what Acura Team Penske is doing in 2020. The team confirmed via Twitter that its championship-winning driver lineup of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya will be back in the No. 6 ARX-05 with Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves also returning for the full season in the No. 7 entry.
For the Rolex 24, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and Motul Petit Le Mans, 2019 Indy 500 winner and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud will return to the lineup for the No. 6, with 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi coming back to the No. 7 squad.
Corvette Racing lineup includes Jordan Taylor for C8.R
In mid-November, Corvette Racing confirmed what long had been rumored when it announced that two-time IMSA champion Jordan Taylor would be moving from the prototype ranks to team with Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R as part of the team’s two-car GT Le Mans (GTLM) class program in 2020. The team’s No. 4 entry would continue to see longtime co-drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
“It’s a huge honor to be back with Corvette Racing for 2020 and part of the full-season lineup,” said Taylor, who won the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans with Gavin and Milner as part of the Corvette Racing GTE Pro lineup. “I’m very proud to be joining one of the most successful teams in sports car racing and to represent the Corvette and Chevrolet brands.”
Briscoe joins van der Zande in No. 10 Cadillac
The day after longtime team driver Jordan Taylor was confirmed at Corvette Racing, his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing squad revealed that Ryan Briscoe would be joining the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team to co-drive with Renger van der Zande for the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship.
“I’m really excited to be joining WTR,” said Briscoe. “I’ve always had so much respect for the organization. They’ve been so successful and are one of the most committed teams in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship. It’s an honor to join them as one of their full-time drivers.”
Briscoe is joining the team after four years with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT program, which concluded in 2019. Another longtime Ganassi racer – five-time IndyCar champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon – was confirmed to join the lineup for endurance races at Daytona, Sebring and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Kamui Kobayashi, who won the 2019 Rolex 24 alongside van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Fernando Alonso, also is returning to defend the team’s Daytona victory.
DragonSpeed commits to full LMP2 season
DragonSpeed became the first team to formalize its plans to compete in the full six-race WeatherTech Championship LMP2 season with the announcement that Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley will drive the team’s Gibson-powered ORECA. The team also will defend its 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona class victory – which does not count toward the overall 2020 WeatherTech Championship for the class – with as-yet-unnamed third and fourth drivers.
“IMSA’s changes to the LMP2 class rules and schedule have put it on a par with the (European Le Mans Series) in terms of gentleman driver appeal,” said Team Principal Elton Julian. “We are responding enthusiastically to that.”
Legge, Nielsen named drivers of GEAR Racing Lamborghini
Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen – who co-drove a Meyer Shank Racing Acura for several 2019 WeatherTech Championship events – were named as full-season co-drivers of the new No. 19 GEAR Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. The team is being run in conjunction with Grasser Racing, which won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in both 2018 and 2019, as well as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2019.
“GEAR stands for Girl Empowerment Around Racing, and it is our mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold in racing and in life,” said Kara Kenney, GEAR’s global brand director. “We’re thrilled to have Katherine and Christina on the team, and we couldn’t have found a better racing partner than Grasser.”
Parker Chase Joins Hawksworth, AIM Vasser Sullivan
Eighteen-year-old Parker Chase, who made his WeatherTech Championship debut in the 2019 season with Starworks Motorsport in the GTD class, is joining the driver lineup for an AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in 2020. Chase – who drove in his first race with the team at Motul Petit Le Mans – will co-drive the team’s No. 14 entry alongside longtime Lexus racer Jack Hawksworth.
“I’m honored and excited to be joining AIM Vasser Sullivan for the 2020 IMSA GTD season,” Chase said. “I want to thank [team co-owners] ‘Sulli’ (James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan), Jimmy (Vasser) and Andrew (Bordin) for this opportunity. The team had a lot of success in their first year in IMSA racing the Lexus RC F GT3 and I’m looking forward to helping them continue and improve on that success.”
Mustang Sampling, JDC-Miller Motorsports to field No. 5 Cadillac
They’ve co-driven to Daytona, Sebring and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta victories in the past, and now, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais will chase the WeatherTech Championship DPi title in 2020. They will be sharing the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, which will be fielded by Minnesota-based JDC-Miller Motorsports in 2020, for the full season, with past 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Loic Duval joining the team for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.
“I’m incredibly excited to join JDC-Miller Motorsports and to continue my relationship with Mustang Sampling Racing,” said two-time WeatherTech Championship titlist Barbosa. “(Mustang Sampling President) Ken and (wife) Brenda (Thompson) have been incredible supporters. The passion they bring to the races is key to the success of Mustang Sampling.”
“I am thrilled to get the opportunity to race a prototype again and be reunited with Joao, Ken and Brenda,” Bourdais added. “2020 can’t come soon enough and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of our Cadillac DPi-V.R.”
Snow, Sellers reunite at Paul Miller Racing
After stepping away from racing at the end of 2018, Snow made a return to the No. 48 Paul Miller GTD team at the recent Michelin Encore at Sebring International Raceway.
The recent Sebring event reignited Snow’s competitive instincts, and the 23-year-old, second-generation racer is now looking to make a full-time return to competition.
Snow will combine with Sellers with the aim of recapturing their 2018 championship-winning form in the 12-race 2020 season, which includes the return of the GTD category to the legendary streets of Long Beach.
“Everyone at Paul Miller Racing couldn’t be happier to have Madison Snow back after a year’s hiatus from driving and welcome Bryan Sellers back for his sixth season with the team in 2020,” Paul Miller Racing founder, Paul Miller said.