Thursday, November 11, 2021 by Eliane Gilain
The ultimate title in the GTLM class, in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will be decided this Saturday at the end of the 10-hour race at Road Atlanta, the Petit Le Mans. If the team title can no longer escape Corvette Racing, the crew of the C8.R No.3 of Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg and Antonio Garcia has every chance of being crowned champion at crew level. Failing that, it’s the trio of the sister car, driven by Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims, who could still be crowned.
The WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Cooper MacNeil, Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, is currently in 3rd place in the championship. This car and the Corvettes are the only ones to have taken part in the whole season, which is the last in the GTLM category.
But at Petit Le Mans, this last event of 2021 will see the GTLM category find a peloton worthy of its reputation since in addition to the presence of a second Porsche WeatherTech Racing, we will find for the last time in competition the two BMW M8 GTE of Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL). One will be entrusted to John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Augusto Farfus, currently 4th in the championship, while the other will see Quebecer Bruno Spengler return to competition in North America with teammates Connor De Phillippi and Philip Eng. The trio is 5th place in the championship.
For Spengler, this Petit Le Mans should not be an easy event: « it’s a track that I discovered last year, in 2020 » he explains to us. “Road Atlanta is very technical and small, which is a challenge with the traffic to manage in such an event. We will need a bit of luck and no collision until the end of the race. I also expect a lot of neutralizations,” he adds.
According to Bruno, if the Corvettes are already champions, it is perhaps on the side of the Porsches that we should look to find the favorites in the GTLM class: « The Porsches benefit from an excellent Balance of Performance (BoP ), so they are very fast”. Confirmation of his words, the WeatherTech Racing team set the two best times in the first free practice, then the 2nd and 3rd in the second session on Thursday, while the second 911 RSR was entrusted to three official Porsche drivers, Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen and Fred Makowiecki.
This Petit Le Mans will be the opportunity to see Spengler in action one last time with the M8 GTE. « My most special memory with this car was here at Road Atlanta when we took the win with Connor De Philippi in the 6-hour race that took place last year in the revised schedule of series. Then at Watkins Glen, we also had a great fight with the Porsches” emphasizes Bruno, who adds: “Last year, I also have good memories of the event at Sebring. We had led the whole race until 12 minutes from the end when we had been hit by a GTD, which had ended our race”.
For Bruno Spengler, the 2021 season was very different from previous ones, he who did not play a full season either in DTM or IMSA. However, he evolved in the Italian GT Endurance championship in addition to working on the development of the new M4 GT3. We will come back with him on these subjects, tomorrow morning, for the second part of this interview on poleposition.ca…