DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After the success of the inaugural event last year, IMSA has confirmed the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore will return later this year at Sebring Int’l Raceway.
The 2019 edition of the event will be held at Sebring Int’l Raceway on Nov. 8-10.
“By all accounts, the inaugural Michelin Encore was fantastic,” IMSA CEO Ed Bennett said. “The event featured great racing, significant track time and served as an opportunity for newcomers to the IMSA paddock to see what Michelin, Sebring and IMSA are all about. We very much look forward to the 2019 event being bigger and better for all involved as we continue to further develop the concept.”
LMP3, GT4 and TCR specification machines took to the iconic Central Florida circuit. The 2019 Encore will feature those classes again with the addition of GT3 cars, which were eligible in the inaugural Encore but did not compete. Should any class have less than five cars, IMSA will reserve the right to modify and exclude the class prior to the event. As was the case in 2018, teams are not required to be active participants in any IMSA-sanctioned series to participate in the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore.
After a thorough review of the first Encore, the 2019 version will be a three-day event from load-in to finish which is a one-day reduction from the 2018 event. This change will decrease the resources teams need to participate.
Load-in for the event will be the morning of Friday, Nov. 8, with promoter test sessions planned for that afternoon. On-track activities, including practice and qualifying, will be on Saturday, Nov. 9 with the four-hour endurance race taking place on Sunday, Nov. 10.
“We could not be more pleased with how the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring played out this year,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsport, Michelin North America. “We are glad it is returning in 2019 and look forward to working with IMSA to increase this event’s appeal to pro-am LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR racers everywhere.”
While the race featured many new faces on the grid, a pair of IMSA veteran drivers enjoyed the weekend’s atmosphere and were hopeful of its return next year and the future.
“It was an exciting weekend,” IMSA regular Andy Lally said. “I hope this was the first of many Encores to come and this becomes a cool tradition at Sebring. It’s cool to come south a little bit and have some fun in Florida and finish off the year with sort of a non-points, non-pressure, fun weekend.”
“There were some really good drivers out there,” Katherine Legge said. “I really think this was a good event. The four hours just seemed to be about right. I’m looking forward to this event again (in 2019).”
The 2018 weekend featured many amenities which are sure to return in some fashion next year for fans returning to the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit.
“The inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore was a great addition to the Sebring annual schedule and we are looking forward to building on its success,” said Wayne Estes, president and general manager of Sebring International Raceway. “Michelin’s involvement with a second marquee weekend of IMSA racing at Sebring is great for our passionate and enthusiastic fans and we look forward to this event being on the fall schedule for many years.”
Many took advantage of staying at the conveniently-located Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center next to the track. The property will feature many yet-to-be-announced enhancements that will be announced early in 2019. The hotel should once again be the place to stay during the second annual Encore, as these sizeable improvements come online during the year.
ANSA Motorsports captured the overall and LMP3 victory with two young stars, Canadian Roman de Angelis and American Kyle Kirkwood as they shared the Ligier JS P3. K2R Motorsports’ trio of polesitter Kay van Berlo, Matt Bell and Jim McGuire finished second. Polestar Motor Racing with drivers Legge, Keith Grant and David Grant rounded out the podium.
Nate Stacy, Kyle Marcelli and Dean Martin won in GT4 with the Ford Mustang GT4 for Roush Performance/KohR Motorsports. GMG Racing finished second with James Sofronas, Jason Bell and Lally sharing an Audi R8 LMS GT4.
In TCR, Remo Ruscitti and Marco Cirone delivered a win for Mark Motors Racing in an Audi RS3 LMS TCR. Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson finished second for JDC-Miller Motorsports in another Audi RS3.