DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – More than two weeks before entries open for the second Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring Int’l Raceway, Riley Motorsports has confirmed its plans to participate with a pair of Mercedes-AMG race cars for the event scheduled for Nov. 9-10.
The four-hour endurance race will feature LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR race cars competing for purse money and Michelin tire credits for the 2020 season.
Riley Motorsports currently fields Mercedes-AMG race cars in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class as well as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport class.
“Right now, we’re going to enter the Encore with the No. 74 Mercedes-AMG GT3 car driven by Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach,” Team Owner Bill Riley said. “We think it’ll be a good way for us to start working with Lawson and Gar getting ready for the 2020 season. The second entry we have, we’re working on that right now on what class we’re going to enter. It’ll be with an AMG, and we don’t know if it’ll be a GT3 or GT4 car, so we’re working on getting that entry secured also.”
The announcement that Robinson and Aschenbach would be racing in the 2020 GTD class with Riley’s team came at Virginia Int’l Raceway last month. Riley acknowledges the Michelin Encore will be a significant opportunity for the new team to work together.
“When you look at the schedule for the weekend of the Encore, it’s pretty compressed, but it’s a lot of track time,” said Riley. “That helps us two-fold. One, it helps us get used to making quick decisions, and getting the car turned around quickly with the driver input. And, with a four-hour race, it lets the drivers get to see how they do over a long run with the setups we’ve been using and see how it all unfolds and what we need to build on going forward to Daytona.”
The benefits of competing at the Michelin Encore will extend past the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, as the WeatherTech Championship, Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge all will return to Sebring in March for the iconic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts event week.
For Riley, whether it’s the Michelin Encore of the Twelve Hours of Sebring, he’s confident in the Mercedes-AMG product at the 3.74-mile circuit.
“We had a strong car at Sebring,” said Riley, who won the 2017 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the GTD class with drivers Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and then-endurance driver Mario Farnbacher. “The AMG is always strong at Sebring, so I’m pretty confident we’ll have a pretty decent car for the Encore and the Twelve Hour. But it does at least make sure the feedback we get from Gar and Lawson is the same direction we’ve had over the last three years with AMG.”
Similar to the inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring in 2018, teams will be required to field a minimum of two drivers per car and a maximum of three. No Platinum-rated drivers will be allowed to compete and no driver lineup may have more than one Gold-rated driver. Driver lineups will be subject to IMSA approval.
Refueling, tire and driver changes all will be allowed to take place at the same time during pit stops (no timed stops). A maximum of three crew members will be permitted over the wall to provide any service, and only the exiting driver will be allowed to assist during driver changes.
The purse includes $10,000 for the winner in each class, as well as three sets of Michelin Pilot Sport GT tires. Second place in each class will receive two sets of tires while third-place finishers will receive one set.
Should any class have less than five cars, IMSA will reserve the right to modify or exclude the class before the event.