Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Julien Andlauer (France), and Thomas Merrill (Salinas, Calif.) will drive the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 11-12.
MacNeil has eight starts and two podium finishes at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Porsche Factory Driver Andlauer has five starts with a win. Newcomer to the team and first time Le Mans runner Merrill brings a wealth of road racing experience. The Californian runs in the Trans Am TA2 Championship and has also turned laps in an LMP2 car.
“I am really looking forward to my eighth Le Mans,” MacNeil said. “The LMGTE Am Class is looking as competitive as it has ever been with 23 entries. Julien is a real pro and we have run together in the first two IMSA WeatherTech events this year. Thomas is a fast Bronze driver who is new to the race, but with the my experience, Julien, and the crew at Proton Competition we will get him up to speed very quickly.
“I had the opportunity to get some laps in our Coca-Cola Porsche 911 RSR at Road America last weekend to help get prepared for Le Mans. I am looking forward to having another strong run at the biggest sports car race in the world in three weeks.”
Andlauer has five Le Mans starts and won the race his first time out with Proton Competition in 2018.
“I like our driving line-up for Le Mans,” Andlauer said. “I drove with the Cooper for the first two IMSA WeatherTech Championship races this year, so I know he is strong behind the wheel. He knows Le Mans and he likes the Porsche 911 RSR. I don’t know Thomas, but I trust the team that he is fast, and we will help him to prepare.
“For the race we will have to stay out of trouble. Unlike in IMSA, as soon as you lose a lap at Le Mans it is very tough to get it back. We will have a lot of time to prepare as we arrive one and a half weeks before the race. It is a lot of time to prepare and have meetings and get to know each other. We have all the potential and support to have a competitive race at Le Mans.”
For Merrill, Le Mans is a dream come true.
“I’m thrilled to be running Le Mans,” Merrill said. “It’s been a lifelong goal for me to compete in this race, and I can’t wait to seize the opportunity! It’s an honor to join WeatherTech Racing. I live just down the road from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Together with Proton, the pedigree of this team in undeniable, I think we will be a really strong entry. Not many get the chance to race at Le Mans, and even fewer get the chance to do it with such a strong team. Big thanks to WeatherTech, Proton, and the MacNeil family!
“I drove the Porsche RSR for the first time, and it was a special experience. I was raised on the Porsche brand, both my parents raced with the Porsche Club of America during my childhood, and it’s always been a dream to drive a contemporary RSR. I will be spending a lot of time on the SIM to prepare for the race. I also plan to study a lot of videos and watch race coverage from previous years. There’s a lot of procedures at Le Mans so making sure all of that is sorted is a top priority.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will take the green flag at 4 p.m. CET on Saturday, June 11.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing