MacNeil and Estre have strong run in GTLM Porsche
Daytona Beach, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2021) - WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hindsdale, Ill.) and Kevin Estre (France) drove the No.79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR to a third-place finish in today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Pole Award 100-minute qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. The result will have them starting on the second row in GTLM for next weekend’s running of the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
New for 2021, the IMSA WeatherTech series instituted a qualifying race to set the grid for the Rolex 24 At Daytona to run Jan. 27-31. The two-driver race meant that teammates Richard Lietz (Austria) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) were spectating today.
Under tricky conditions of light rain MacNeil was elected to start the red, white and blue Proton Competition prepared Porsche RSR. Having only driven the GTLM spec Porsche for the first time on Friday he showed incredible poise and discipline to keep the car on the track and competitive in class. He turned the wheel over to teammate Estre in sixth. The team put Michelin slicks on the car in still drying track conditions making it dicie for the early going of his stint. As the team was playing out the strategy through several yellows he drove to the lead in the second-third of the race. With just 17-minutes remaining he was forced to pit for a splash of fuel and came home in third.
“It was not something I was looking forward to, driving in the rain in a new car that I don’t have a lot of seat time in,” MacNeil said. “It was a pretty steep learning curve. I was able to keep it on track, no contact and turn it over to Kevin with everything intact. Kevin did a great job, including leading the race. All we needed was one more yellow and we would have won the qualifying race. We had to pit for a splash of fuel and ended up third. For the first time racing in GTLM in a Porsche I am thrilled. Racing against the factory teams and finishing third with two Corvettes in front of us is a good day.”
“P3 is a good result for us,” Estre said. “First time GTLM program for these guys and the driver lineup and Cooper in a new class was good. It is a good starting position for the 24. The race was ok. It was a little tricky for me early. We put on slicks and it was still a little damp. We were able to get up to speed and we led some laps in the race. We had to pit for fuel with15-minutes to go and lost the lead due to our strategy, but P3 is all good.”
The 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 59th running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona season opening race will take the green Saturday, January 30.