The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship just landed even more star power in advance of its highly-anticipated 2018 season.
On the heels of two significant team announcements in July that confirmed the return of Team Penske and Joest Racing to full-time International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) competition, a pair of high-profile driver announcements on Tuesday last week further confirm the unprecedented momentum of the WeatherTech Championship’s Prototype class and its Daytona Prototype international (DPi) platform.
Highlighted by the full-time IMSA arrival of Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske announced the driver line-up of one of its two Acura DPi Prototypes, with the legendary three-time Rolex 24 At Daytona champion – and Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar race winner – joining defending Prototype champion Dane Cameron in one of the team’s ARX-05 entries.
While Montoya has yet to make a start in the WeatherTech Championship, he has no shortage of sports car experience winning the Rolex 24 in 2007, 2008 and 2013. One of the most accomplished competitors in racing, Montoya is the only driver to win an IndyCar championship, the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24, all in his first attempt. He also has won two Indianapolis 500s – including the 2015 race with Team Penske – and he earned seven Formula 1 victories in his career.
“I have really enjoyed working with Roger and Team Penske over the last four years,” said Montoya. “When Roger asked if I’d like to be part of starting this new sports car operation with Acura, it was an easy decision. I’ve always loved racing sports cars. It’s definitely a challenge and it’s going to be a lot of fun to develop a new car with Acura. I’m excited to start the testing of the ARX-05 next week. Team Penske started its winning tradition in sports cars and it’s going to be cool to be a part of a new chapter with the team.”
What Montoya lacks in WeatherTech Championship starts, Cameron makes up for as he is tied for the series lead with 40 career starts, including 10 wins and the 2016 Prototype championship alongside current co-driver Eric Curran. With two races remaining in the 2017 season, Cameron sits third in the Prototype standings with one win and four podium finishes for Action Express Racing. A versatile driver in his own right, Cameron also won the GT Daytona (GTD) championship in the WeatherTech Championship in 2014.
One of the team’s Cameron has been competing against this season made some news of its own on Tuesday morning last week, with Tequila Patrón ESM announcing that Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani has signed to run one of the team’s Nissan DPi entries in 2018.
One of the top young drivers in the Prototype class, Derani burst onto the IMSA scene in 2016 with wins in the Rolex 24 and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and most recently won at Road America on August 6 with co-driver Johannes van Overbeek.
“I am really happy to confirm I will continue to race for Tequila Patrón ESM next season in what I am sure will be a super competitive IMSA WeatherTech championship,” said Derani. “All of us at Tequila Patrón ESM share a big desire to win and this team spirit is the fuel we need to continue to perform at the highest level possible at every track we go.”
Announcements on the remaining full-time drivers for Team Penske and Tequila Patrón ESM will come at a later date.