WeatherTech Racing concluded the 2018 IMSA season in spectacular fashion with a hard-fought victory at the Motul Petit Le Mans. This first place finish was the latest addition to an already impressive three podium appearances (2nd place at 12 Hours of Sebring, 3rd place at Lime Rock Park, and 3rd place at Road America) the team secured during the duration of the season.
In the midst of a grueling IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule, WeatherTech Racing driver, Cooper MacNeil, took very little time away from the track.
While MacNeil piloted the number 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari in ten IMSA WeatherTech Championship Series races he simultaneously took first place in 9 of 13 rounds of the Ferrari Challenge North American series. MacNeil shut the door on the competition in a thrilling finish at the finale in Monza, a win that ultimately led to MacNeil being crowned the 2018 Ferrari Challenge Series Champion.
With a Ferrari Challenge Series Championship and four podium appearances in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship series under his belt, MacNeil ended the 2018 season with a fourth place finish in the IMSA GTD Drivers Championship.
For an inside look at how the 2018 season unfolded, WeatherTech Racing Media caught up with MacNeil in the weeks before the team roars back to Daytona in January.
1. You are standing at the top of the podium with your teammates after 10 hours of racing at Road Atlanta – what are you feeling?
MacNeil: Ten hours of racing at Road Atlanta, to me, feels more difficult than some twenty four hour races. Standing in the center of the podium I was naturally still in a shock. It was a long time coming for us to get our Ferrari to the top step, and it felt even better doing it at the season finale.
2. Weeks later, you are standing atop the podium at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Now with back to back wins and the series Champion, what are you feeling?
MacNeil: This one felt really good. I was thrilled to finish the championship with a win at Monza. It’s a special track in the Ferrari world, and I was pleased to clinch the title there!
3. With all the time, effort, and work you put into both IMSA and Ferrari Challenge throughout the season, how satisfying was it to finish out the 2018 season with back to back wins at Road Atlanta and Autodromo Nazionale Monza?
MacNeil: It was a fantastic way to end the year and it makes me even more excited to work harder for more wins next year.
4. How challenging was it transitioning between the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and Ferrari Challenge all season?
MacNeil: I did it so much this season that it really just became natural. I am fortunate enough to get that much seat time in each of those cars and really learn what they like. Seat time is extremely important in succeeding at this sport and I am thankful to get so much of it.
5. To the untrained eye, the Ferraris you pilot in both IMSA and the Challenge look quite similar. How do they differ?
MacNeil: One is a purpose built race car and the other is more like a street car. They both drive much differently and require a different driving style to get the most out of the car. Personally, the 700hp Challenge car is fun but I much prefer the GT3 car.
6. Now that we understand the differences between the vehicles, can you give us an idea of how the IMSA series and the Ferrari Challenge differ? How are they similar?
MacNeil: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a much more competitive championship with some of the best drivers in the world competing. All of the races are endurance races. The shortest race in the championship is one hundred minutes and the longest race is twenty-four hours long. The Challenge Championship is mostly made up of amateur gentlemen drivers so the competition level is a bit lower and the races are only thirty minutes long.
7. Do you think that participating in the Ferrari Challenge helps you in the IMSA series? If so, how?
MacNeil: Any time you have the chance to drive a race car- take it, because it will only make you a better driver. As I said before, seat time is key to going fast.
8. What stands out as your most memorable moment of the 2018 IMSA series?
MacNeil: Our four podiums but most importantly our win at Petit Le Mans.
9. Same question, only which moment from the 2018 Ferrari Challenge was most memorable?
MacNeil: Winning the championship at Monza by winning the first race which started in the dry and then started raining six minutes in. Definitely the toughest race i've done driving on slick tires in the rain at Monza- “The Temple of Speed”
10. What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming 2019 IMSA and Ferrari Challenge seasons?
MacNeil: Rolex 24 at Daytona. I haven’t won that race so it’s at the top of the list. I’ve come close, finishing P2 in 2015.
MacNeil and WeatherTech Racing are set to kick off the 2019 IMSA Racing Season at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 4th - 6th, 2019.