Macneil, Bleekemolen Set To Race In Different Car After Qualifying Crash
A crash by Bret Curtis in the No. 79 ProSpeed Competition Porsche during Thursday’s first qualifying session put the plans of 2013 American Le Mans Series GTC champions Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen in serious jeopardy for the 82nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, set to begin Saturday at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. ET).
Fortunately, the team was able to secure another car overnight. In a further link to North America, it is the same car that current TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors Paul Miller Racing fielded in the American Le Mans Series last season.
The car is being raced this year in the European Le Mans Series by driver Sebastien Crubile, who also will replace Curtis in the driver lineup. Curtis has not been cleared to drive by race organizers, the Automobile Club l’Ouest (ACO).
"First, we are glad that Bret is OK," MacNeil said. "Racing is all about overcoming adversity to reach the finish line and we have had more than our share this weekend. We didn't do the test and I have had about seven laps so far, however I am very familiar with the Porsche and I will be fine for the race.
“ProSpeed is doing a great job with the car and I am sure we will be right where we left off when we take it out for the warm-up Saturday morning. We are going to use this little setback as motivation for a full day of racing come Saturday."
Corvette Driver Garcia Becomes New Father Overnight
A few hours after setting the second-quickest time in GTE Pro qualifying on Thursday night, Corvette Racing driver Antonio Garcia hurried home to Spain to meet his new daughter, Maria. His wife, Irene, gave birth at 3:45 a.m.
While he did not make it home in time for the birth, Garcia did catch an early-morning flight from Paris to Madrid to be with his family. He was uncertain about making it back in time for Friday night’s driver parade in downtown Le Mans, but will be back behind the wheel of the No. 73 Corvette C7.R on Saturday.
Full-Season Tudor Championship Participation Paying Dividends For Dempsey
Hollywood superstar Patrick Dempsey makes his third attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend. Dempsey is sharing the No. 79 Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche with fellow TUDOR Championship competitor Patrick Long, and his long-time motorsports business partner, Joe Foster; it’s the same all-American driver lineup that challenged for a victory and finished fourth in the GTE Am class last year.
Friday afternoon, Dempsey credited his TUDOR Championship participation for making a significant contribution to his Le Mans preparation.
“Because of the large car count that we’ve had this season and the different classes, all of that stuff really helps you in traffic here," Dempsey said. “It’s really good. I think the situational awareness, and trying to stay out of trouble in the traffic really applies here. I think that’s what I’ve gained the most out of the series."
After this weekend, Dempsey will be back driving his No. 27 Porsche 911 GT America in the TUDOR Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class. He is looking forward to the opportunity, as the team brought on some new engineers prior to the Detroit event on May 31 that have helped to improve the car.
His next TUDOR Championship race start will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, at Watkins Glen International, on June 29.
“We have a test at Indy [next week], we’ve realigned the team, and I’m really happy with the adjustments we’ve made going forward for the rest of the year," Dempsey said. “I think we’re going to have a lot better results. We’ll do some more testing, then we have Watkins Glen, and then I go off to Brazil and get some Porsche Cup testing down there to race there later in the year."
A soccer fan, Dempsey also will get an opportunity to take in some World Cup action while in Brazil.