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New WeatherTech Racing line-up at Petit, MacNeil steps aside

The 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship finale will see another line-up shuffle for WeatherTech Racing as Cooper MacNeil steps down.

#79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3R: Cooper MacNeil, Daniel Juncadella

#79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3R: Cooper MacNeil, Daniel Juncadella

Art Fleischmann

Instead, the #79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be driven at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta by three Mercedes factory drivers – Maximilian Gotz, Maximilian Buhk and Mikael Grenier. The car will be competing in GTD Pro with support from Mercedes-Benz of Billings, Montana.

The WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition team comes into the event as defending Motul Petit Le Mans race winners, with the WeatherTech brand taking a one-two finish in last year’s race in the GTD Pro category. Of the three drivers that will be tasked with defending the race win, just one, Buhk, has competed in the event in the past.

He said: “I’ve raced Petit Le Mans once in 2018 with P1 Motorsport,” Buhk said. “I really like the track with its elevation change and the last corner is super quick and always a challenge.

“As it’s a 10-hour race, the key factor will be to stay out of trouble. We have to be in a good position for the last hour as this is the time where the race will be decided.

“The Mercedes-AMG is always competitive as we could see over the years. We should be able to take advantage of tire usage as the car is always gentle on tires.”

Grenier gained experience of competing with the WeatherTech Racing/Proton team this year at Watkins Glen, and said he was “looking forward to competing in the GTD Pro Class again.

“Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is a very nice circuit. It will be my first time there, but I know the track well from the sim and studying onboard video and watching previous IMSA WeatherTech races there too.

“In the race, we will need to survive the first few hours, keep the car in one piece, have a good strategy and be on the lead lap with a few hours to go and from there push for the win. Our WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG should be very strong in Sector 1 so we will need to make the best out of it there.”

Gotz is another Petit Le Mans newbie but described the venue as “a traditional old school track almost like the Nordschleife with its up and down and blind corners. It looks like it will take a lot of effort to drive. With all the prototypes and being in the slowest class it can be tricky with traffic, especially at night.

“I have been using my sim to get some laps in to learn the corners and the general gearing of the track. Of course, I’ve watched some of the past races as well. The key will be to not make any mistakes on the track or in the pits. I have a lot of faith in the car and the team.

“In racing you also need some luck, especially at the end. We don’t do much fuel saving racing in Europe, so we will need to be in a good position with strategy at the end.”

 

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