Andlauer and Picariello finish second in qualifying race
Daytona Beach, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2022) - WeatherTech Racing’s three entries for the 60th running of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona will start second, fourth, and fifth in GTD Pro for the Jan. 29-30 twice-around-the-clock race.
The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche GT3 R was the highest finishing WeatherTech liveried car in today’s running of the Roar Before the 24 100-minute qualifying race that sets the grid for next weekend’s Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona.
Julian Andlauer had the wheel of the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R for the start of the race. The Frenchman started ninth in the GTD Pro category based upon his qualifying time yesterday of 1:47.226. Running in the top five Andlauer gave the controls over to Alessio Picariello at the 45-minute mark. The Belgian managed to drive the red-white-and-blue Porsche to the front to take the overall lead in the GTD Pro category with 26-minutes remaining. He wasn’t able to keep the eventual winning Lamborghini behind him at the end settling for second place.
“After the difficult qualifying for us yesterday, I think we had a great comeback today,” Andlauer said. “This result counts more than yesterday but this is not the final race. We will have to do the maximum next week. We can confirm the baseline is really good and the lineup is grateful for this. Each day the car is feeling better and better. I am quite happy with it. We did not have any contact, so the car is in one piece and that is what is most important.”
Maro Engel started the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 car from seventh in the GTD Pro category based upon his qualifying time of 1:47.017. Engel followed the team Porsche into pit lane and surrendered the seat to Jules Gounon. The Frenchman kept the strong run going making up a couple positions to finish fourth.
“We had a nice clean race,” Engel said. “P4 in class is a good dress rehearsal for us for next week. Good job by the Proton team with the preparation and the pit stop. Jules had a good drive to bring it to the checker in fourth.”
In the No. 15 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Austin Cindric had the opening stint honors. The full-time NASCAR driver started in 13th at the tail end of the GTD Pro field due to contact on the first lap of qualifying that resulted in right front suspension damage. The damage, although small, couldn’t be repaired in time for him to post a qualifying time. After moving up five positions, Cindric handed over to Dirk Müller 43-minutes into the race. The seasoned road racer kept the Mercedes of Billings GT3 car moving to the front and crossed the finish line in fifth.
“I finished better than I started,” Cindric said. “A pretty good improvement over qualifying. I got to see a lot of the field starting from the back. I got to understand the strengths of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 compared to the others. I made up a lot of positions and gave the car over to Dirk. We had a nice smooth driver exchange. He kept it moving up the field and we got a lot of data for the race weekend. It was a strong showing for the WeatherTech brand with all of our cars in the top five. It is a good start for us. I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Cooper MacNeil who will be spending time behind the wheel of both the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R had a good weekend logging a lot of laps in two different cars.
“It was an exciting weekend of practice for me,” MacNeil said. “I did a fair number of laps in each car and got pretty comfortable with both the Mercedes and the Porsche. The Proton team is doing a good job of preparing the cars. We had varied conditions through the weekend, from sun, to cold, to a cold mist. The qualifying race looked crazy with all those cars on the track. We have all three of the WeatherTech cars in the top five of a very tough field for the race, which I think makes for a pretty successful weekend.”
WeatherTech Racing Rolex 24 driver lineup:
No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R will be Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Julien Andlauer (France), Matteo Cairoli (Italy), and Alessio Picariello (Belgium)
No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Maro Engel (Germany), Jules Gounon (France), and Daniel Juncadella (Spain)
No. 15 WeatherTech Racing with Mercedes of Billings (Montana) Mercedes-AMG GT3 Dirk Müller (Germany), Patrick Assenheimer (Germany), and Austin Cindric (Mooresville, N.C.)
The 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona will take the green flag at 1:40 p.m. ET, Saturday, January 29.