Ally Cadillac drivers Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, Calif.), Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) return to IMSA competition for this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
This weekend, Johnson, Kobayashi and Rockenfeller will wrap up a two-year program that saw the No. 48 Cadillac compete exclusively in the four endurance races on the IMSA WeatherTech schedule (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Road Atlanta). So far, the team’s best finish was at Daytona last year where they finished second. The team finished fourth in this race last year and looks to finish this year strong in the 10-hour classic.
This will be Johnson’s second-career start in the Motul Petit Le Mans behind the wheel of the No. 48 Ally Cadillac. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion finished fourth in last year’s race.
“In last year’s race I was really impressed with how the Ally Cadillac handled and raced,” Johnson said. “It was a very exciting and compelling race on the track and I was happy to see our teammates in the 31 Cadillac win the Championship with their second place finish. Petit is a fun race. I am excited to run it again and to see what will happen with the weather on Saturday. I don’t have a ton of wet experience in the Ally Cadillac so I am hoping for a dry race, but will take whatever is thrown at me.”
Last year, Kobayashi turned his first-ever laps at Road Atlanta. This year, he is looking forward to going back and improving upon that fourth-place effort from a year ago.
“I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Petit Le Mans,” Kobayashi said. “I think our advantage in the Cadillac is in the high-speed sectors. It seems we have the advantage in the high-speed corners. This is where I think we can gain in lap times. Of course, it’s important during the long race to manage traffic. We need to manage the car without any contact because the track is quite narrow. We need to manage the car to be strong in the last part of the race. Unfortunately, this will be my last race with the Cadillac.
“I’ve been with Action Express for the last two years. I appreciate the team and my teammates Jimmie and Mike. I think we worked really hard to win many races. We pushed really hard. Unfortunately, so far, we haven’t won. But, we are looking forward to winning one race. Jimmie Mike, and I will do our best to win this last race. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Rockenfeller will make his sixth-career IMSA WeatherTech start in the Motul Petit Le Mans. However, it will be his first Petit Le Mans behind the wheel of the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. His best Petit Le Mans finish, in this series, was second back in 2017 in a Corvette C7.R.
“It’s the last race of the year and all that matters is to give it our all,” Rockenfeller said. “There’s no reason to think about anything but winning. So, I’m looking forward to that. I haven’t driven the car at Road Atlanta – ever. It will be the first time for me so I’m excited to be in the car. I’m happy to be heading to Road Atlanta to finish on a high [note]. It has been a great journey with Chad [Knaus], Jimmie, Kamui, and José [María López]. I think we have a chance to win. So, let’s go for it.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/ Photo. Brian Cleary