MacNeil: Porsche GTLM Came After Ferrari Deal Fell Through

Photo: WeatherTech Racing

WeatherTech Racing’s switch to Porsche machinery for the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season came only after a deal to run a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in the GT Le Mans class fell through, according to Cooper MacNeil.

Confirmed on Wednesday, MacNeil will be at the wheel of a Proton Competition-run Porsche 911 RSR-19 this year, marking a departure from Scuderia Corsa after a three-year run in the GT Daytona class.

Speaking to John Hindhaugh on Wednesday’s Midweek Motorsport, MacNeil revealed that a Ferrari program, as reported by Sportscar365 in November, had been in the works although did not ultimately materialize, leading to its reunion with the German manufacturer.

“We were trying to put our deal together for the 2021 season… I love Ferrari, I love the race car and everything the Italians do,” MacNeil said. “I was looking forward to running a GTLM Ferrari.

“But due to certain circumstances, we unfortunately had that deal fall through.

“When one door closes, another one opens, so we had the opportunity to rejoin forces with Porsche. The last time I was with them was in 2016, with the [911] GT3 R.

“I won two ALMS GTC championships with Porsche in 2012 and 2013.

“My father raced in the Twelve Hours of Sebring in 1999 in a Porsche and finished second with Alex Job Racing.

“We have a lot of history with Porsche, a lot of heritage and success and a really good relationship. The door that opened happened to be the Porsche door.

“We obviously had the relationship from before with Christian Ried and Proton from racing at Le Mans in the past.

“With Porsche AG, we had a lot of positive feedback from them and a tremendous amount of factory support.

“One thing led to another, they re-connected us with Proton and we were able to come up with a good game plan for 2021 for GTLM in a Porsche RSR.”

While set to share the wheel of the No. 79 car with Porsche factory drivers Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni and Kevin Estre at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, MacNeil indicated that Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell will be part of an rotation of co-drivers throughout the season.

Its lineup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was part of the deal with Proton, has yet to be confirmed as well, but will run as a GTE-Pro entry.

“With all of the other racing Porsche does in the world, it will be a bit of a mix throughout the season,” MacNeil explained.

“We’re trying to finalize the driver plans now but the lineup for Daytona is set. After that it will be a combination of Mathieu Jaminet as well as Matt Campbell.”

WeatherTech “Not Frightened” By Step Up to GTLM

MacNeil explained his rationale for making the move to GTLM, which currently only sees one other full-season entrant in Corvette Racing for 2021.

BMW Team RLL, which will be on the grid at Daytona, has yet to define its program that could see a scaled-back effort with its BMW M8 GTE entries, while Risi Competizione is currently set for the Rolex 24-only.

“You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. For me, stepping up to GTLM… At the end of the day we go to the race track to win races,” MacNeil said.

“We prepare everything possible in order to succeed. Whether we’re in GTD, GTLM or racing in Ferrari Challenge, everything is prepared to the highest standard and we’re going to push as hard as possible.

“We’re going up against Platinum drivers with myself being a Silver in GTLM in the premier class. But look at my other co-drivers.

“We’re not frightened. We’re ready for the challenge. We know it’s going to be slightly an uphill battle with Corvette’s success and how strong that team and car is.

“We’re prepared and doing everything we can possible to getting a new watch in a few weeks.”

MacNeil, who will also continue in Ferrari Challenge next year, confirmed that the Porsche 911 RSR-19 chassis is one of Proton’s cars with previous race history that will be upgraded to full 2021-spec.

It will be the only GTE-spec Porsche on the grid at Daytona, with Ried’s proposed entry under the Proton Competition banner having since been called off. 

“I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the RSR,” MacNeil said.

“I’ve yet to drive the car except for at Sebring a couple of months ago when we drove our Coca-Cola RSR for a couple of parade laps.”

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