ERA MOTORSPORT ALREADY HOPEFUL FOR 2024 AFTER PROMISING SEASON
- 19 October 2023
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (OCT. 19 2023) — Era Motorsport is expecting a successful season heading into the 2024 IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship after an incredibly strong showing at the 2023 Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday.
The iconic 10-hour race founded by Don Panoz around the 2.540 mile course marked the end of what was a series-defining season for the IWSC. Not only did the first season of the new GTP-era come to an end, but the LMP2 class had the most entries the Motul Petit Le Mans has seen in the IWSC years.
The Era Motorsport crew had a chip on their shoulder coming into the event with a lot to prove after a season of highs and lows. The lineup of stalwart bronze-driver Dwight Merriman, sportscar racing icon Ryan Dalziel, and recently crowned 2023 Indy NXT Champion Christian Rasmussen came into the event with two straight podiums in the Michelin Endurance Cup, ready to add a third.
The team’s pace was proven on Thursday with three practice sessions to get the set-up of the car dialed in. The No. 18 Oreca 07 held in the top half of the field all three sessions despite a huge amount of traffic making a clean lap nearly impossible.
Despite landing in eighth place on the starting grid after qualifying Friday, the team quickly set about taking positions after the green flag dropped as Merriman pushed up to fifth place during his consecutive two and a half hours in the car despite contact from other cars twice requiring tail changes.
The pit crew not only made quick work of the tail changes, but race engineers proved their prowess early into Dalziel’s first stint by getting two wave-arounds in a single caution to go from two laps down all the way up to the lead lap.
With Dalziel and Rasmussen trading the car in the latter hours of the race the No. 18 found itself further and further up the leaderboard, eventually slotting into first place as the sun set and the final hours of the race approached.
Rasmussen held first place all the way until a caution with 40 minutes left in the race when they slotted back into second place after taking more fuel than a competitor during the final stop of the race.
With the caution coming to an end a half hour before the checkered flag, it was a matter of checkers or wreckers for the Era crew, but sadly for the team, it would be the latter option prevailing.
With fifteen minutes to go, the No. 18 car slid off the track from second place and into a tire barrier.
Thankfully, Era had already built up a big enough gap over some competitors that they still managed a top five finish despite missing the last few laps of the event.
“I don’t think any of us would’ve been satisfied with second place,” said team owner Kyle Tilley. “It was unanimously agreed that we would be pushing at eleven-tenths the rest of the race in pursuit of the win regardless of the consequences.”
“It’s for sure a shame that things ended the way the did, but after how well the team performed for the first nine hours and 45 minutes of the race, and even the rest of the season leading up to this finale, I’m more confident than ever in our chances as we enter the 2024 season.”
Dalziel mirrors Tilley’s hopefulness after looking back on the results of the season.
“The season didn’t go how we planned it, but behind the scenes it had to have been one of the best seasons of racing I’ve ever been a part of,” Dalziel said. “The crew at Era put up with some of the craziest situations I’ve ever seen and took it all in stride.”
“I have no doubt we’ll be out in full force for 2024 prepared better than ever for a successful year. The guys here simply don’t settle for less than perfection, and we’re all hungry for wins.”
Rasmussen added, “I’m super proud of the year we put together in IMSA. It seemed like every single race we faced some mountain that the team was able to overcome masterfully. I have no doubt we had the best guys in the paddock behind us, and I know the tides will be turning for the crew behind the no. 18 in 2024.”
Era Motorsport has been confirmed for a single-car entry in the 2024 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship LMP2 class, with driver line-up to be confirmed at a later date.
“With just a few months between now at the Rolex 24 we'll be hard at work to make sure we’re as ready as ever,” said Tilley. “We’ve got big plans and high hopes for next year as we enter into the biggest LMP2 field we’ve seen so far.
“Stay tuned, it’s gonna be an exciting season.”