All three series sanctioned by IMSA will be participating in the Winter Test
All three series sanctioned by IMSA, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin will be participating in the Winter Test next week in preparation for the launch of the 2013 racing season.
February 5 and 6 will see 19 GT3 Cup Challenge and 15 Prototype Lites cars hit the 3.7-mile circuit as they begin their hunt for speed and an edge on the competition in preparation for the 61st Annual Mobile 1 12 Hours of Sebring, just over a month away.
And while the IMSA Development Series will start the action, February 7 and 8 will feature the ultimate rung in sports car competition with the stars and cars of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón showcasing the talent and manufacturer muscle that has thrilled Sebring audiences for years.
North American GT3 Cup competitors will mix it up on track as the US and Canadian Porsche one-make series start their season at 8:55 am on Tuesday, February 5 for their first on-track session of the year.
The combined Series track time will allow for both veteran and promising new talent to learn the complexities of one of the oldest circuits in America. With 17 turns of bumpy, weaving asphalt/pavement mix, including the famed high-speed right-hander of Turn 17, drivers and teams will be treated to a valuable education in preparation for one of the most famous international endurance races in history.
And while the circuit has changed considerably since the first 12 Hour race in 1952, so has the competition. In addition to the entries already signed on for the full season, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series will be welcoming two new team entries.
Thompson Racing out of Doylestown, Pennsylvania will field 18-year-old Colin Thompson, who raced just last season in the open wheel ranks with USF2000.
Mark Llano of Wellington, Florida will join NGT Motorsport teammates Amadeo Quiros and Daniel Duerson and returning Gold Cup Champion Angel Benitez Jr., who will make the jump to Platinum Class this season. Llano will run his entry under the Serket Racing and Crye Precision banner in partnership with NGT Motorsport.
A successful LMPC team with two back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012, CORE Autosport will also join the on-track action this season as former Prototype Lites champion Jon Bennett will climb in behind the wheel of a Porsche GT3 Cup 997.
Effort Racing returns with talented newcomer Ashley Freiberg, a former open-wheel competitor in the Star Mazda Series (recently renamed to Pro Mazda), joining veteran Michael Mills to learn the nuances of GT3 Cup strategy. Ashley is the second female to enter the series full time since its inception following Snow Racing’s Melanie Snow.
Freiberg and Mills will be joined by Sloan Urry, whose fierce on-track style pushed him to a 4th- place finish in the Platinum Cup Championship last year.
With over 24 years of racing competition on their resume, look to Kelly-Moss Motorsports to continue to make an impact both on and off the track with returning competitors Paul Barnhart and David Ducote out of Houston, Texas.
In Gold Cup competition, two teams will be running a combination of new and returning drivers. MGM will pair new entry Juan Carlos Alvarez of Venezuela with Canadian Franck Silah. TPC Racing will join Michael Levitas with David Williams, both hailing from Maryland and running in the Masters Championship.
The Canadian series will be well represented with returning veterans Anthony Mantella, competing under the banner of the 2012 Championship Winning Team SpeedMerchants, along with Martin Harvey of Wingho Racing.
In Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, Mikhail Goikhberg returns with JDC Motorsports to vie for the top rung on the championship podium for 2013 in Lites 1. He will be joined by his returning teammate Gerry Kraut.
2012 Championship Team, Performance Tech, will run four entries with returning Masters Champion Alan Wilzig making the jump to the L1 ranks to run alongside fellow Masters teammate Daniel Mancini.
The two will be joined by the father and son duo of Jim and Ryan Booth from Charleston, South Carolina. Ryan, who joined the series the latter half of the season finished as high as second place at Virginia International Raceway.
Master’s Champion Jon Brownson will be back behind the wheel of a Eurosport Racing entry, along with returning veteran Dan Weyland and Joel Janco. Janco made his IMSA debut just last year at Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Comprent Motorsports will field three entries with longtime competitor Darryl Shoff returning, along with Lamont Harris and a new face in 17-year-old Sean Rayhall, who ran only one race in Prototype Lites in 2011 at Petit Le Mans, but finished ahead of 2012 season champion Tristan Nunez in that race. Rayhall is fresh off of a 4th place overall in his rookie season last year in the UARA Series.
Rounding out the field is Ferrari of Houston with the two returning Masters entries of Owen Kratz and Richard Fant.
Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda competitors first practice session will begin at 8 am on Tuesday morning.