Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – WeatherTech Racing will compete in the GTD Pro category for the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, kicking-off with next month’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28-29.
Jules Gounon (France) and Daniel Juncadella (Spain) will drive the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Mercedes-Benz of Billings, Montana support for the 2023 season. Maro Engel (Germany) will join for the endurance races, with Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) coming onboard for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
MacNeil will run a reduced schedule, with only the Rolex 24 At Daytona at this time, and will take on more of a management role with the team throughout the season. The Proton Competition crew, headed by Christian Ried, will once again direct the program.
“We are happy to announce that Jules and Dani will be running with us for the full IMSA WeatherTech Championship in 2023,” said MacNeil. “I consider them to be among the best Mercedes-AMG GT drivers in the world. Last year, we had a parade of drivers through the car and couldn’t really compete for the championship.”
“Maro will join us for the longer races and adds a wealth of knowledge to the team. With our strong support from Mercedes-AMG, those three guys driving the car, and WeatherTech/Proton Racing spearheading the operation, I like our chances every weekend in the GTD Pro Class.”
“I have won Petit Le Mans three times, Sebring twice, finished on the podium at the 24 hours of Le Mans three times, and a few championships along the way. In 2015, we finished second at Daytona, so the Rolex 24 is one of the last events to win on my racing to-do list. I will forever love the sport of racing but after 15 years it is time for me to turn the page and focus on the more important things in life like family and work at our company.”
For Gounon, he is thankful and ready for 2023. The Frenchman had a very strong 2022, winning the Spa 24 Hour, Bathurst 12 Hour, Kyalami 9 Hour and the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship.
“I’m amazed and thankful to Cooper and David MacNeil to trust Dani and myself to take over the No. 79 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA GTD Pro Class for 2023,” said Gounon. “We will give it our all to get the WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the front and get a big trophy at the end of the year. I think the line-up we have with Dani and Maro is very strong, and we will be very good with Cooper at the Rolex 24 as well. We all complete each other in different areas. We really make a great team. I really enjoy their company and am looking forward to a great year.”
Teaming with Gounon in 2022, Juncadella won the Spa 24 Hour, GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship and Indianapolis 8 Hour. He also won the Intercontinental GT World Challenge Championship last weekend.
“I am super excited, next year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting chapters of my career,” said Juncadella. “It was a last-minute call for Daytona last year and then it turned into a couple more races with Cooper in the WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was fun. It was surprising to me, I discovered IMSA is one of the most exciting championships happening around the globe right now. It is great that we have managed to get our deal together to run the whole season with Jules for 2023 and WeatherTech Racing. On top of that, having Maro in the car for the endurance races and Cooper for the Rolex 24 puts the cherry on top. We start with the big race first, the Rolex 24. We were competitive last year; we now have to bring it to the finish line.”
The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will start with the traditional Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway, January 20-22. The 81st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will take the green on January 28.
For more information on WeatherTech Racing, including race recaps, photos and team gear, please visit the team site at www.WeatherTechRacing.com.
- By Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing