SEBRING, Florida (November 9, 2018) - It is the end of the year but the start of a new era this weekend as IMSA stages the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore, a single race, four hour shootout featuring LMP3, GT4 and TCR class machines at Sebring International Speedway.
The race is the first with new series tire partner Michelin as IMSA stages a special one-off event that will see a three-class field of racers look to claim a little bit of cash to close out the year while also getting a leg up on their knowledge of the new Michelin tires.
As is increasingly the case on the international motorsports scene, the event will feature several teams utilizing AERO Sustainable Paint Technology as part of their performance arsenal.
Having already driven to success during the regular IMSA season, as well as earning triumphs in European Le Mans and IndyCar competition AERO equipped teams have made their mark with several podiums and claiming two championships in both the GTLM class (WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge) and the TCR class (Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge). With the series staging a single race, multi-class shootout at Sebring International Raceway, an inaugural Encore title is up for grabs.
With 12 LMP3 machines all aiming for the top step on the podium, K2R Motorsports will have its work cut out. But one thing separating the two-car LMP3 team from the rest is the cutting-edge technology of AERO Paint.
K2R Motorsports will be entering two cars with Jim McGuire and pilot Matt Bell in the No. 26, while former IndyCar star Alex Barron and Naveen Rao will be wheeling the No. 64 team car.
McGuire and Bell are eager to continue their season long effort after just closing out the Michelin Le Mans Cup season as co-drivers in the AERO liveried United Autosports machine. Also working to their advantage, the pair are already familiar with the capabilities of the new for 2019 IMSA Michelin tire as they keep an eye ahead on the 2019-2020 Asian Le Mans Series set to start next month.
Also competing for overall bragging rights with a full AERO livery is the Simraceway Motorsports LMP3 machine of Maurice Smith and Nico Rondet driving the No. 11 entry. Rondet will be another contestant with Michelin tire experience after just coming off of a Michelin Le Mans Cup season driving for fellow AERO equipped team, Brookspeed International. The Sebring outing marks the first event for the Simraceway squad, which has the big picture in mind ahead of the special Michelin event.
“The whole point of being here at the Encore is to put the whole machine in motion so we are in a good position when the season starts at Daytona,” said Rondet. “When you start a new team, it doesn’t matter how much experience everyone has, the new machine grinds a little bit! We want to do as well as we can this weekend, but this is also very much about being ready for next season.”
Returning with its signature black and green AERO-painted Audi R8 LMS, Carbahn Motorsports will be contesting in the GT4 class with drivers Sameer Gandhi, Mark Siegel, and Jeff Westphal. The team which finished fifth in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS Team Championship after growing its speed all season long, is now looking to claim another GT4 class podium at the Sebring Encore.
The Michelin Sebring Encore weekend is set to have three practice sessions on Saturday with one final practice on Sunday followed by Qualifying with the green flag set for 12:00 pm ET.