WeatherTech Racing celebrated a banner year by winning the 2012 American Le Mans Series GTC driver and team championships. Cooper MacNeil is the drivers champion with teammate Leh Keen taking the second-place trophy.
MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL), moved up to GTC from the IMSA Porsche Cup Series for 2012. The University of Colorado at Boulder student was able to negotiate the championship by sharing the seat of the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche with four different co-drivers. Season long driver Keen (Charleston, SC) ran eight of ten events, logging two wins and four podium finishes. Jeroen Bleekemolen (Monte Carlo) provided the support at Road America posting one of the team's three wins. Anthony Lazarro (Atlanta, GA) drove at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (Quebec) was the third driver at Sebring, and Dion von Moltke (South Africa) drove the season ender at Petit Le Mans.
Alex Job, team owner, is already in full prep mode for a repeat in 2013.
"We celebrated the two championships at the banquet last week, and we are now in full preparation to repeat as GTC champions in 2013," Job said. "Cooper did a great job all year behind the wheel with Leh providing a lot of track insight and speed. Louis-Philippe, Anthony, Jeroen and Dion all played a role in our GTC championship. We have begun to prepare our GRAND-AM Porsche GT car for the test at Daytona International Speedway, Nov. 11-13 looking toward the Rolex 24 Hour in January. We are by no means standing still."
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Finished second, Qualified third
The season-opening American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida was a strong start to the season for the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing team. Keen had the wheel of the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche for the start. Keen was able to take the lead by lap 41. Soon after, on lap 45, he suffered a left rear flat tire and had to pit. Handing the car over to MacNeil the drama for the WeatherTech Porsche team continued. On lap 87 MacNeil tangled with a P2 car causing another flat and heavy damage to the side and rear of the white 022. The team made quick repairs, but went down three laps. The trio of MacNeil, Keen and Dumoulin then went to work getting the laps back. A combination of fast lap times and strong strategy got them back into contention finishing on the lead lap and taking second place.
Tequila Patron Grand Prix of Long Beach
Finished second, Qualified first
Starting from the GTC Class pole position, MacNeil was in a heated battle for the lead for most of his stint, driving his first laps in dry conditions through the streets of Long Beach. Running fast laps up to the races first caution period on lap 38, MacNeil handed the car over to Keen in the lead. Keen took over and was locked in a three-way battle for the front spot. Falling to third momentarily on lap 52, he was able to race his way back to second by lap 57. Traffic and the lack of a late race caution conspired to keep Keen from taking the lead, instead settling for second place.
Tequila Patron at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Finished sixth, Qualified fourth
Lazzaro (Atlanta, GA) had the wheel of the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche for the start of the six-hour event. Coming to the green from the third row in GTC, he steadily made his way to the front, with help from the team. Pitting on lap 30 for fuel only the AJR crew was able to get him out in the lead where he stayed for 37 laps before the tires went away. On lap 91 he handed over to MacNeil who exited the pits in second place and then drove his way into first by lap 107. On lap 141 the young driver had a coming together in the Cork Screw with an over anxious LMPC car when he was hit on the driver's side door. Then 20 laps later he reported the first of three incidents of the throttle sticking. He was forced to pit out of sequence for repairs.
American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park
Finished first, Qualified first
MacNeil started the white and black WeatherTech Porsche from the pole position. The young college student was able to lead the majority of his stint before briefly giving up the lead as the tires went away half-way through the race. Handing over to Keen he proceeded to storm back to the lead as he had to go off track twice to avoid damaging the WeatherTech Porsche. A late race pit stop for left-side tires, and a splash of fuel kept Keen at the point. He was able to bring it home to the checker giving the team their first win of the season and extending the GTC points championship lead for MacNeil.
Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Finished second, Qualified third
MacNeil had the controls of the white and black No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche at the start. The speedy college student wasted little time getting to the front and was able to lead several laps during his hour-and-thirteen-minute minute stint. Handing over to Keen the Mosport newbie continued his education on the fast 2.4-mile, 10 turn track all in preparation for the sprint to the checker. Keen drove the car into second position and with a late race yellow leaving just a handful of laps to the finish, he set-up the leading 66 Porsche for a pass but found himself on the outside going into the treacherous Turn Two. He decided to lift forcing him to settle for second position at the finish.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Finished fourth, Qualified fourth
MacNeil had the wheel for the start of the two-hour-and-forty-five minute race at the natural terrain 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit. MacNeil had a strong start to the race driving the white and black WeatherTech Porsche to as high as third. The heat played havoc with the set-up of the car as the team was chasing the handling even during the race. So much so they pitted MacNeil under caution to make an early front sway bar adjustment, uncommon for the team from Florida. Keen took over on lap 41 and couldn't drive up to the leaders in the GTC category. A bright spot on the day was the team finished ahead of the 34 car, their closest pursuer in the GTC championship.
Road America Road Race Showcase at Elkhart Lake's Road America
Finished first, Qualified first
MacNeil started the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche from the pole position in GTC. The University of Colorado college student did a very strong, and long, stint to keep the white and black Porsche at the front of a very tough GTC field. Turning over to Bleekemolen, the Dutchman was never really stressed during his stint. The team would be put back based upon pit stops and then when the stops cycled through the WeatherTech Porsche would be on top. The win extends MacNeil's points lead in the GTC Championship chase.
Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT
Finished second, Qualified second
MacNeil had the wheel of the WeatherTech Porsche for the start. As is typical in closed street course racing he had to avoid a first turn melee. Taking the conservative approach, as he has a healthy lead in the championship, he had to take evasive action to keep the car between the walls. Coming around the next lap in fourth he began to make his comeback. By lap 11 he was second and by lap 24 when he turned the car over to Keen he was leading the GTC field.
Keen exited pit lane and soon was in a nose-to-tail battle with the 66 Porsche. Again, taking the conservative championship leading approach, he let the car go. With just eight laps remaining the top four GTC cars were in a battle for all positions. Keen stepped up his lap times and brought the WeatherTech Porsche home in second place.
VIR 240 GTC Class race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR)
Finished first, Qualified fifth Having to finish fourth or better to sew up the GTC Championship, MacNeil started from a conservative third row for today's four-hour race at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn natural road course located just north of Danville. The University of Colorado at Boulder sophomore was able to make up ground, handing the car over to Keen in the championship paying fourth position. Keen exited pit road in second place, thanks to the quick pit stop performed by the Alex Job Racing crew and proceeded to head for the lead of the GTC race.
On lap 50 Keen was able to make a pass for the overall class lead. Playing it conservatively as competitors began to go down laps, Keen was still able to lead more than 45 laps through the middle of the four hour-long race. Cycling through the last pit stop, the No. 11 JDX Porsche tried to beat the 22 WeatherTech Racing Team out of the pits by short filling their car. That proved to be a mistake as on the penultimate lap, Michael Valiante had to duck into the pits for a splash in the No. 11 handing the GTC Class lead to Keen coming to the white flag. However, the race was not over. The speedy Jeroen Bleekemolen was closing fast. Keen put a great last lap together to take the race win and the driver's championship for MacNeil.
Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta
Finished fifth, Qualified first
Keen, after putting the car on pole, had the wheel of the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche for the start of the 10-hour race and quickly gapped the GTC field by 22 seconds before the first pit stop. On lap 47 Keen brought the white and black 911 in for its first stop. On his way in he noticed that the pit speed limiter switch was not working. He exited pit lane and returned one lap later so the team could make repairs. That cost him five places and a stop-and-go penalty for speeding in pit lane. By his next stop he handed the WeatherTech Porsche over to von Moltke in third place. Von Moltke set out to make up time and did. By his next pit stop he had driven the car back up to second place. MacNeil was next up. Running fast laps, the University of Colorado at Boulder student, was able to maintain the second place run handing back to von Moltke on lap 241.
At this point in the race the team was swapping the lead in GTC with the No. 30 car on pit stops. Keen was back in for the second to last stint as night fell. On lap 358 he had an issue with the brakes that became a precursor of things to come. On lap 385 he pulled the WeatherTech Porsche to the side of the track with a total loss of engine power. He tried repeatedly to crank the motor, but an electrical issue ended the race just eight laps from the checker.
The team will kick-off the season at Daytona International Speedway for the 51st running of the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona, Jan. 24-27.
Alex Job Racing