MacNeil busy weekend with Ferrari Challenge opener too
Bolingbrook, Ill., (January 20, 2020) - WeatherTech Racing is ready for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona to run January 25-26.
Drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Toni Vilander (Kankaanpää, Finland), Alessandro Balzan (Italy), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) are looking forward to running the all-new WeatherTech Ferrari 488 Evo in its first race at the World Center of Racing this weekend. The Scuderia Corsa managed team put in maximum miles (410) with no issues at the Roar test three weeks ago.
MacNeil will be pulling double duty as the 2020 Ferrari Challenge Championship kicks-off at Daytona this week as well. MacNeil is the two-time defending Ferrari Challenge champion and is going for the hat-trick this season.
The WeatherTech foursome likes the way the Roar went and know that the GTD field is uber-competitive again this year.
"The new car showed a lot of promise at the Roar," MacNeil said. "You could feel how some of the upgrades have improved the car, but we still need miles on the new WeatherTech Ferrari 488 Evo to see exactly what we have. The GTD field is very competitive again this year. There are top drivers in fast cars as we saw at the Roar. The team that wins will have to have a perfect run to get the Rolex watches on Sunday.
"It will be a busy weekend for me as we also kick-off the 2020 Ferrari Challenge season at Daytona. The extra seat time in races on Thursday and Friday will help me with increased focused and track time for the 24."
"The Roar went really well with the new Ferrari 488 Evo," Vilander said. "All of the drivers know each other well and we like the same kind of handling car. The Scuderia Corsa team had a good plan to get to know the all-new WeatherTech Ferrari better. We put in a lot of miles and the car and drivers all performed as expected. The GTD race is going to be so competitive this weekend. There are so many good cars and top drivers that it will take a total team effort to win. We are ready to see what we can do with this new car over 24 hours."
Left to right Alessandro Balzan, Toni Vilander, Cooper MacNeil, Jeff Westphal
"I can't wait for the race," Balzan said. "This will be my sixth Daytona 24 with Scuderia Corsa and my second with Cooper and WeatherTech Racing. We have a brand-new car and had great preparation at the Roar with Toni, Cooper and Jeff. I think there were 40 drivers within a second in the GTD field at the Roar, so the race will be very competitive. We get great support from WeatherTech, Michelotto, and Ferrari. It will be the first race for the Ferrari 488 Evo car, so we want to give it a great debut this weekend. This will be similar to 2016 when we got the win at Sebring with a new Ferrari."
"We have a new car with the Scuderia Corsa team," Westphal said. "I was excited about how the WeatherTech Ferrari 488 Evo behaved at the Roar. The race is super special, we are starting the season with a bang. Everyone on the team is very excited. We have a big task ahead, with the competition, and getting our hands around the new Ferrari. I think it is one of the most talented and competitive fields I've seen at Daytona since I have been racing there."
NBC will carry live network coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25 and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. This is all part of the NBC Sports' complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
The first Ferrari Challenge race of the weekend goes green on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9:05 p.m. Race 2 will take place Friday at 6:45 p.m. Streaming of both races is available at races.ferrari.com.
The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will start with the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona January 25-26 with cars taking the green flag at 1:40 p.m. ET on Saturday.