BMW announces reduced 2021 IMSA programme

BMW has announced it will only compete in the four endurance rounds of the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship, leaving just three full-time entries in the depleted GTLM class

BMW announces reduced 2021 IMSA programme

After months of rumours about a reduced IMSA programme the German manufacturer has finally confirmed that its pair of M8 GTE cars run by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will only contest the four enduros on the 2021 schedule as part of the Michelin Endurance Cup.

That means the two BMWs will only run at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Sebring 12 Hours, the Watkins Glen 6 Hours and at the Petit Le Mans.

BMW's announcement follows last year's decision by Porsche to withdraw from the GTLM class, leaving just Corvette as the sole remaining works team in America's leading GT class.

The pair of factory run Corvette C8.R GTEs will be supplemented by just one full-time competitor, with WeatherTech Racing stepping up from the GT Daytona class to field a Porsche 911 RSR-19 for Cooper MacNeil and a rotating cast of Porsche factory drivers. Gianmaria Bruni, Kevin Estre and Richard Lietz will join MacNeil at Daytona.

At RLLR, John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Augusto Farfus are aiming to repeat their 2020 Daytona triumph. Last year's winners will be joined by Marco Wittmann in the #24 car for Daytona, while contesting the three remaining endurance races as a trio.

In the #25 sister machine Bruno Spengler, Connor De Phillippi and Philipp Eng remain with the team to take part in the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.

They are being joined at Daytona by former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock, who has represented the German brand in DTM over the past eight seasons.

"I'm really excited to see what awaits me at Daytona because both the track and the BMW M8 GTE are totally new to me," 38-year-old Glock said.

"I will really use the test drives ahead of the race weekend to get used to everything.

"I'm particularly looking forward to the very special experience of a 24-hour race, which I last had the pleasure of in 2015 when I competed at Spa-Francorchamps alongside Alex Zanardi and Bruno Spengler."

The traditional Roar Before The 24 test day has been moved to the weekend before the race, taking place on Saturday 23 January. The 59th running of the Daytona 24 Hours is scheduled on 30-31 January.

Daytona's GTLM class will feature a grand total of six GTE cars. In addition to the three full-time entries and the two BMWs, Risi Competizione will return to IMSA's traditional season opener with a Ferrari 488 GTE driven by James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Davide Rigon and Jules Gounon.

Klauser becomes new Corvette racing programme manager

Chevrolet has named Laura Wontrop Klauser as its sportscar racing programme manager, a new role that includes engineering and technical oversight of Corvette Racing.

Klauser, who already manages the Cadillac DPi-V.R and Camaro GT4.R programmes in IMSA, will "expand the level of engineering and technical direction for Corvette Racing as it sets a course for its future with the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, along with all the Chevrolet road racing programmes," according to a team statement.

Klauser replaces long-time manager Doug Fehan who stood down last month having been at the helm for 22 seasons at the Chevrolet GT squad.

"It's a huge honour to move into this role with Corvette Racing," said Klauser, who has been part of General Motors' racing activities for the last five years.

"It unquestionably is one of the premier programmes in all of sportscar endurance racing.

"The rich history of Corvette's successes in IMSA is something of which everyone at Chevrolet can be proud."

Klauser began at General Motors in 2008 and spent eight years on the production side of the business, including advanced design work on the Corvette C7. She followed this with stints on the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevy Spark production teams before becoming programme manager for the Cadillac ATS-V.R entry in the Pirelli World Challenge.

A year later, Klauser helped launch the immensely successful Cadillac DPi-V.R programme, which to date has claimed two IMSA manufacturers' titles, four Michelin Endurance Cup titles and 18 race wins including four consecutive victories in the Daytona 24 Hours.

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