CJ WILSON RACING JOINS THE BIG LEAGUES
Today CJ Wilson Racing announced the details of its 2018 race program. The Austin, Texas based team will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with an Acura NSX GT3 driven by Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer.
The team will make its race debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March in the GTD category and will contest all of the remaining rounds of the North American Endurance Cup. Additional IMSA races are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks while the option of running events such as the California 8 Hours and the 24 Hours of CoTA continue to be evaluated.
The move to the highest level of North American sportscar racing has been almost a decade in the making for team owner and former MLB All-Star, CJ Wilson. The team was formed in 2010 and it has methodically worked its way through the levels of sportscar and endurance racing capturing multiple championships and race wins along the way. For Wilson, making the ‘Big Leagues’ in a second sport has been a lifelong ambition. “As a young kid watching IMSA races it was always my dream to race in the premier sportscar series. It looks like I still have some time before I race in WeatherTech but I’m happy for Marc and Till to take on the toughest track in the country in our NSX,” explained Wilson. He went on to recognize the extent of the task ahead of the team. “We have been aiming to get into this paddock for years but now the real fight begins to see what we can do against the much more experienced teams.”
Team Manager, Andris Laivins, has been instrumental in the development of this program and is excited about the potential of the partnership with Acura. “We are jumping in as one of the first customers of HPD and Acura for this car after its development year in 2017, and I've just been blown away by how great they've been since we started talking last summer. Interestingly, in a lot of ways the Acura NSX is an American car, built in Ohio, and the GT3 project is fully supported by HPD in the US.”
CJWR will join the official IMSA test tomorrow at Sebring, and Laivins travels to Central Florida with his eyes wide open. “We have a lot to learn, and we're going to do it at our own pace; I think our years in the Continental series were critical preparation for the technical and commercial challenges in WeatherTech.”
“We are very pleased to have another customer team the caliber of CJ Wilson Racing joining our Acura NSX GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Wilson effort is an outstanding addition to our existing North American programs at Michael Shank Racing and the Honda of America Racing Team,” said Lee Niffenegger, NSX GT3 Program Manager for HPD (Honda Performance Development}, the racing arm for Acura Motorsports in North America.
Marc Miller enters his eighth season with the Texan team and he has been a key part of CJWR’s consistent level of performance. “It seems like short time ago I was helping out the MX-5 Cup program to provide good cars for customers and it certainly does not seem like five years since we won our first Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race in ST.” He also recognizes that all of that experience will be needed if the team is to be competitive in arguably the deepest class in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “Having missed the Rolex 24 and ROAR tests, we do have an uphill climb not having the amount of track time or experience compared to the competition. Our focus is to treat this season as a learning experience and hopefully make some solid impressions against a very sturdy GTD field.”
As an avid historic racer, Till Bechtolsheimer is a keen student of the sport, the significance of the move to the upper echelons of global endurance racing is not lost on him. “It’s hard to believe I’ll be lining up on the grid of the Sebring 12 Hours in just a few weeks. It’s one of the most iconic races in the world and one that I had always hoped I would get a chance to participate in. I hope that some time in the car at the Sebring test will help get us ready for the challenge.”
CJ Wilson Racing and it’s new Acura NSX GT3 will take part in the official IMSA test at Sebring on Thursday, February 22nd and Friday, February 23rd. You can get live updates by following the Official CJ Wilson Racing Twitter account @CJWilsonRacing and you can follow live Timing and Scoring for each session at http://livetiming.alkamelsystems.com/imsa/.