Bar1 Motorsports, (formerly Merchant Services) is back for the 2013 American Le Mans Series season, and is opening that season by entering two cars in the 2013 ALMS Sebring Winter test (Feb. 5–8.) The team’s two PC-class Oreca FLM09-Chevys will be on the track Feb. 7–8.
Besides changing its name, BAR1 has done a lot of work over the off-season. Team owner Brian Alder described some of what went on since Petit Le Mans last October.
“We’ve made a lot of headway,” said Alder in a press release. “We’re in a new shop, we’ve put both cars through rigorous refurbishing and built up a strong compliment of spare parts and components. We’ve revisited everyone’s role within the team and put together a very competitive driver line up … including our third driver options for the longer events. We’re prepared for a serious run at the championship.”
Young sensation Kyle Marcelli will be back in the #8 car along with Chris Cumming and for longer races, Stefan Johansson.
Marcelli has three years’ experience driving the FLM09, scoring three wins and six poles, as well as winning six of seven Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada races he entered in 2012. The 22-year-old Canadian has been racing for seven years; having him back is a big boost for the team.
“I’m very happy to be re-signed by BAR1 Motorsports for the 2013 American Le Mans Series,” Marcelli said. “Brian has built a very nice team and filled it with some great individuals for 2013. I think I speak for everyone at BAR1 in saying that we are very confident about our program and eager to get underway.”
Fellow Canadian Chris Cumming has also been racing since 2006, but he got a somewhat later start than his co-driver; Cumming is 42. Cumming has primarily focused on driving Porsches in the Rolex GT and ALMS GTC classes; a ride in the Michael Shank Racing Daytona Prototype at the 2013 Rolex 24 gave his a taste of the power and downforce of a purpose-built race car.
“Chris showed very well in 2012 in the GTC category,” said Kyle Marcelli of his Canadian co-driver. “I’m confident he will do a great job this year in prototype. I look forward to working with him and getting him comfortable as quick as possible in the new office. Plus he’s Canadian so at least we cheer for the same hockey team!”
Stefan Johansson is the team’s eldest; at 56 he has raced everything on wheels. With eight seasons in Formula One, five in IndyCar, and seasons in ALMS, Grand Am, and ELMS, Johansson brings huge experience. The Swedish driver is no stranger to long races; he has four starts at the Daytona 24, three in the Indy 500, eight at Sebring and 15 starts at Le Mans including three victories.
“Stefan and I have come close to working with each other on a few programs over the years, so I’m happy to hear he is a part of this effort. Stefan definitely brings a lot of additional value to the program. I’m sure he will teach us a few tricks,” is what Marcelli had to say about his endurance-race partner.
The team has yet to announce its driver line-up for the second car, though Chapman Ducote is listed as a driver for the Winter Test. Ducote is CEO and President of credit card processing company Merchant Services, which sponsors the team.
Ducote, 36, has been active in multiple series since 2007, driving everything from Daytona Prototypes to GT1 Aston Martins to P1 Lolas and LMPC Orecas.
Tickets for the ALMS Sebring Winter test are only $10 per day, well worth the investment for any race fan with free time
The 2013 ALSM season—the last one before the merger with Grand Am—starts with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday, March 16, 2013.
This might be the last time Sebring runs with a truly international field, including P1 Audis and a horde of European P2s to challenge the North American teams. Don’t miss the chance. Tickets are available through www.sebringraceway.com.
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