Juncadella and Bamber join Corvette’s IMSA roster

Ahead of its first season of worldwide GT3 competition, Corvette Racing is expanding its roster of factory drivers that will compete in championships and events around the globe with the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R.

Daniel Juncadella, Earl Bamber, Charlie Eastwood and Nico Varrone will be part of the group that will race Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs in either the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship – or in some cases both.

The quartet joins existing Corvette factory drivers Antonio Garcia, Tommy Milner, Nicky Catsburg and Alexander Sims, all of whom will contest the full WeatherTech Championship season. The eight collectively will compete as factory drivers for Corvette Racing – the brand that encompasses all factory-supported and customer Z06 GT3.R efforts going forward.

“As we move into GT3 and customer racing, it is important that we add to our roster of drivers that are available to teams,” said Christie Bagne, Corvette Z06 GT3.R program manager. “We are excited about the wealth of experience in our Corvette factory lineup. Both GM and our teams will benefit from the learnings from each driver.”

Juncadella and Bamber each will be part of Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports ’two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) PRO class. Both drivers will race with the factory-backed program in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Juncadella will drive with Garcia and Sims while Bamber joins Milner and Catsburg.

“I’ve been a witness to what it means to be a Corvette driver in the U.S.,” said Juncadella, who recently wrapped up the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup for WeatherTech Racing in GTD PRO after wins at Daytona and Petit Le Mans. “That means a really big fanbase. That’s pretty exciting, to be honest.

“At every autograph session in IMSA that I’ve been sitting next to the Corvette tent, there is a queue of 100 people waiting to get an autograph from their drivers, and we were just sitting around! That’s very exciting, I have to say, to see the legacy that Corvette Racing has created in the U.S. and to see the amount of awareness about the brand is very exciting. It makes me proud and it feels quite unique to be a Corvette factory driver.”

In addition, Juncadella will have the distinction of driving the Z06 GT3.R in two championships as he joins TF Sport for its full-season effort in the LMGT3 Am class of the FIA World Endurance Championship – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – his first year in the global series.

“I have not been to Le Mans. I did watch a lot of this year’s race. I was already in talks with Corvette so I knew it might be one of my possibilities for next year, and that made me be more interested in the race.

“This year obviously was a big year for Hypercar and all the brands coming together with the new regulations. It was an interesting year with a lot of stuff – the Centenary, the last year of GTE … I have to say I was a bit worried that Corvette was winning again because I was like, ‘They are winning so much this year that it’s going to make it difficult for me next year being so successful. ’But it did make me realize how good of a brand they are, how good of a team they are and how they turned things around. It was very exciting.”

Bamber will contest IMSA’s endurance rounds in the Z06 GT3.R. Previously a long-time rival to the Corvette Racing program while driving for Porsche, Bamber already has tested the Z06 GT3.R, adding to a long list of GT3 cars he has driven throughout his career. He also remains under contract for Cadillac Racing’s WEC program in 2024.

“It’s really exciting to be joining Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports for the long races” said Bamber. “I’ve been a part of some big rivalries for many years in IMSA racing; but this organization has won so many races and championships… it’s really impressive. When I did my first test at Road America, you could see why they’ve been so successful. I

“’ve driven the Z06 GT3.R and I think the package is really good. These guys have built fantastic GTLM cars over the years, and I don’t see why the Corvette GT3 should be any different. It’s a well-balanced car already just in its infancy, so I think they will be a formidable force not just in IMSA but also as this program seeks out to go all around the world. I think it will be one of the benchmark cars into the future.”

Varrone, Corvette Racing’s rising star who helped capture the WEC GTE-Am title for teh team, will transition to full-time IMSA duties in his first year as a factory driver. He rejoins AWA – a team with which he won this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona in the LMP3 class – and will partner with Anthony Mantella.

“First of all, it’s a big honor to be a factory driver for Corvette,” stated Varrone. “It’s also nice to be back in IMSA next season with everyone at AWA. These are people that I know from this year and doing the endurance races in LMP3. It was a good year. We won Daytona and had great performances throughout the season. It will be a big challenge with the new car, not only for our team but everyone in the entire Corvette program. But this is also a completely new class for AWA.

“It will be a challenge, but we will be prepared to make the most of it and get some wins with the Corvette Z06 GT3.R and have a great season.”

In FIA WEC, Eastwood joins the Corvette factory lineup alongside Juncadella as TF Sport’s two professional drivers. It’s a familiar relationship for Eastwood, who has driven for TF Sport in the championship from 2018-’20 and the current season.

“It’s really beneficial. Obviously, this is a brand-new car with new regulations going to GT3 from GTE, so knowing all the team and the engineers already, I feel like it can give us the upper hand in how quickly we can develop a brand-new car,” Eastwood said. “It’s a short timeframe between receiving the car and only a few days testing before we get to Qatar. We need to make sure that we’re making the most out of the time that we have together. Knowing all the personnel and the engineers, I hope that will put us in a really good place going into the first round at Qatar.”

Corvette Racing’s new era begins with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 25-28, the first round of the iMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The FIA WEC season begins in March in Qatar.

Story originally appeared on Racer