Herta has made a strong impression piloting the works BMW M8s in GT Le Mans, run by the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team.
The Californian 20-year-old was part of the GTLM winning line-up at Daytona – his IMSA debut – in 2019, and in his five subsequent outings he scored three more top-fives. The last of these, the Sebring 12 Hours last November, should have actually been another win but co-driver Connor De Phillippi was struck by an errant GTD car in the final stint.
“I’m excited to be staying with BMW this year,” said Herta who has also scored three IndyCar wins in his first two years at the top level, and finished third in last year’s NTT IndyCar Series championship.
“I appreciate the opportunity to drive the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. It’s going to be a new challenge for me racing in the GTD class, but I’m very much looking forward to cracking on with everyone.”
He will be joining Turner’s full-timers BMW legend Bill Auberlen, who last year earned the record for the number of IMSA wins – 62 – and rising star Robby Foley, the pair of whom finished second in the GTD championship last year. The other member of the line-up, and the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup third man, will be Aidan Read.
“Our lineup for 2021 is stellar,” said Will Turner, team principal. “Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley have become quite the dynamic duo over the past few seasons, and I could not be happier to have them return for another season.
“We welcome Aidan Read to the team for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds and look forward to seeing what he can add to our effort. For the Rolex 24, BMW NA facilitated Colton Herta signing on and his addition cannot be underestimated.
“Sometimes it feels like the last two decades have been a whirlwind, but I don’t want to miss the chance to thank BMW for their belief in the team and support to help Turner Motorsport reach 400 races, and seven championships, with ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’.
“I am also pleased to announce that Turner Motorsport has renewed our partnership with Liqui Moly for another year. Liqui Moly is “everywhere” and has posted record sales numbers recently. I can’t think of a better partner to be with for 2021.”
For Read, an Australian American 21-year-old, this will be his first race in North America, but he has raced a BMW M6 GT3 in the ADAC GT Masters Championship , finishing in the runner up position in the junior category in 2019.
He commented: “I have really enjoyed my time in ADAC GT Masters, it’s been a valuable career step for me.
“Two seasons of racing GT3 in Europe, in what was a super-competitive championship, combined with my programs in Prototype endurance events has made me a stronger overall driver and this is definitely something that will aid me in my move to the USA and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
“The difference in approach to the race weekend between Sprint and Endurance competition is significant. The former is focused on very short moments like qualifying, the latter about strong average performance over long distance.
“With my talented teammates, combined with Turner Motorsport’s experience in series and the BMW M6, I look forward to the new season with confidence. I have watched the Rolex 24 for many years, so to compete there – and also at other iconic US tracks such as Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta – will be a great opportunity and also a challenge. I can’t wait to get started in Daytona!”
In other GTD news, HTP Winward will enter a Mercedes AMG GT3 and will include Maro Engel as its star driver, while Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin will be piloted by Ian James, Roman de Angelis, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn.