By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course plays host to the Acura Sports Car Challenge on May 4-6, highlighting the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship’s return to the track for the first sports car main-event weekend in Ohio since Grand Am’s last visit in 2013.
There are 34 cars on the entry list in the first non-endurance event on the calendar with all three car classes present so let’s dive into the entry list.
The Prototype field boasts 14 entries with the same entries as the recent race in Long Beach. The driver lineup remains identical except for the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi machine. Spencer Pigot will replace Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda as Tincknell will race at Spa this weekend. Pigot has 12 starts at Mid-Ohio in his single seater career with one junior level win. This will be his first non-endurance sports car race.
Extreme Speed Motorsports will have their two Nissan DPi machines while Cadillac has Action Express Racing (two cars) and Wayne Taylor Racing (one car) representing them.
Acura Team Penske has their two Acura DPi machines back for Mid-Ohio and they might have an advantage at Mid-Ohio as Juan Montoya (Car No. 6) and Helio Castroneves (Car No. 7) have each won at Mid-Ohio in Indy cars.
Mazda Team Joest will have their Nos. 55 and 77 Mazda DPi machines ready to try and build on their fourth place result that Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez got at Long Beach.
In LMP2 machinery, ORECA has four cars while Ligier has the sole entry from AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.
The same eight cars from Long Beach will race at Mid-Ohio with two BMW M8 GTEs racing against a pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs, Porsche 911 RSRs and Ford GTs. There are no changes to the driver lineups in any cars.
Past GT winners at Mid-Ohio in the current GTLM field include Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner for Corvette Racing in 2012, Jan Magnussen for Corvette in 2008, Gavin again for Corvette in 2006 and 2007 in ALMS competition. For the former Grand Am years, current Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver Joey Hand won in a BMW in 2010 while Milner won in 2005 in a BMW.
GT Daytona skipped Long Beach owing to space concerns in the paddock but are back with 12 cars. 3GT Racing has a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 machines entered with Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli in the No. 14 and Jack Hawksworth and David Heinemeier Hansson in the No. 15. Wright Motorsports is entering two Porsche 911 GT3 cars with Michael Schein and Wolf Henzler in the No. 16 and Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen in the No. 58.
There are two Mercedes-AMG GT3s entered by two different teams. Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports has the No. 33 driven by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen while SunEnergy1 Racing’s No. 75 has Kenny Habul and Maro Engel behind the wheel. Magnus Racing has the only Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the field with John Potter and Andy Lally behind the wheel of the No. 44 car.
Paul Miller Racing has the sole Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the field with the No. 48 piloted by Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers. Scuderia Corsa represents Ferrari while Risi Competizione is on the sidelines as Cooper MacNeil and Alessandro Balzan will race the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3.
Michael Shank Racing has two Acura NSX GT3s entered with Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente piloting the No. 86 while Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach are in the No. 93 machine. Turner Motorsports has the sole BMW in GTD with the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 piloted by Dillon Machavern and Bill Auberlen.
Practice for the WeatherTech Championship begins Friday May 4 at 9:45 a.m. ET and at 3:00 p.m. ET. Saturday practice begins at 8:35 a.m. ET with class-separated qualifying starting at 12:05 p.m. ET. The main event starts Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.