The #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR will be driven by Cooper MacNeil, Richard Lietz, Kevin Estre and Gianmaria Bruni at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. While MacNeil will then continue as one of the fulltime drivers, it’s not yet announced who his partner(s) will be over the remainder of the season.
For Christian Ried’s Proton Competition squad, it marks the first move to full-time racing in North America, and the agreement will also see the team apply for an entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro Class.
“We have put a lot of thought into this move,” said MacNeil, who now finds himself teaming with three works drivers from Porsche’s GTE Pro-class squad. “I have raced against this level of competition at Le Mans twice, most recently this year, and have felt comfortable with the added performance of the car.
“We are going back to running a Porsche, and I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the 911 RSR. It will be more pressure on me as a driver, but I am welcoming the added effort it is going to take to run GTLM in 2021.
“We raced with Christian at Le Mans in 2016, so we have an on-track history. I am looking forward to running the Rolex 24 with Richard, Kevin and Gimmi. Proton has a great endurance racing history, and Porsche is always competitive at Daytona.”
Ried commented: “We have been looking at entering the IMSA WeatherTech Championship for a few years. We just didn’t feel like the time was right until now.
“With the factory effort leaving, that left a void for Porsche in GTLM. We were able to get together with David and Cooper [MacNeil] to keep the Porsche brand racing at the top level of GT competition in IMSA. I am looking forward to the challenge and am excited to add IMSA to our racing schedule in 2021.”
The news comes as a welcome boost to IMSA’s beleaguered GTLM category, which currently has only Corvette Racing committed to a full-time campaign, following the works Porsche squad’s withdrawal.
BMW has not yet announced its intentions, although it is believed it will at least take part in the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans.