Ahead of this weekend’s 2020 finale, the 12 Hours of Sebring, AXR team manager Gary Nelson said he was delighted to be able to confirm the driver line-up for the team’s #31 Cadillac DPi-V.R and the return of Whelen Engineering as title sponsor for a fifth season.
He commented: “We are very happy to announce that we will back in 2021 with the same fulltime driver line-up as this year. We have a great core of technical and mechanical staff who communicate well with our drivers. In racing, people move around a lot, so keeping our core has been one of the keys to our success.
“Felipe and Pipo round out that core. They are both fast and complement each other on and off the track. They are committed to doing what it takes to win, and when we cannot, they maximize our points-paying positions on the track. That is how we have dominated the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Championship the last few years.
“We will again have Mike Conway with us for the longer events. Mike is very familiar with our team and our expectations.”
Toyota LMP1 regular Conway will replace Filipe Albuquerque as the #31 car’s third driver, as Albuquerque is set to join the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura squad full-time next season.
“We would like to thank Filipe Albuquerque for his contributions to the team and congratulate him on his WEC LMP2 Championship this season,” added Nelson. “We wish him the best in the future.”
With Albuquerque in Bahrain for the WEC finale with United Autosports, Gabby Chaves will become the team’s endurance race ‘extra’ at Sebring this weekend. Chaves impressed AXR team as a late call-up to replace Nasr for July’s race at Daytona, when the former Formula 1 driver contracted Covid-19.
As a result, Nasr is behind Derani in the drivers’ championship. Derani – a three-time Sebring 12 Hours winner – and the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team (233) goes into this weekend’s race nine points behind championship leaders Helio Castroneves/Ricky Taylor and #7 Acura Team Penske in the Drivers’ and Team standings, respectively.
Meanwhile, at JDC-Miller MotorSports, ELMS race winner Scott Andrews will this weekend team with Matheus Leist and Stephen Simpson in the #85 Cadillac.
“[Andrews] is a young, fast driver and I’m happy that he will be getting a big chance,” said Simpson. “Sebring is a challenging race, it is very physical especially because of the bumps.
“Having a car that is good when the sun goes down is very important as well as handling very well through turns 1 and 17. Typically, you will see a few cars that are fast during the day but fade at night, so making sure we can finish strongly in the dark will be important.”
Their teammates in the #5 Mustang Sampling car will be the expected all-French line-up of Sebastien Bourdais – who currently lies fifth in the drivers’ championship, Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval.