Against most of the predictions (including the one of the blog owner), the Team AAI will not feature one of the Chen brothers, owners of the Taiwanese squad for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In fact, their Corvette C7.R GTE won’t even feature an Asian driver, as two Americans and a British driver will be in the No. 57 car.
Although the American machine will feature a Taiwanese flag, it will be the Belgian outfit ProSpeed Competition the responsible for the run of the operation, and it was the Rudi Penders-led team that acquired the new car, in substitution of the 991-based Porsche 911 RSR used last year. The Belgian team won’t enter with any drivers in the program, being responsible only for the trackside part.
The highlight of the trio will be the return to Le Mans for the GM factory driver Johnny O’Connell. Now he is achieving titles with Cadillac on Pirelli World Challenge, but he lived and breathed Corvette for ten straight years at Le Mans as part of the factory team, conquering three class wins and eight class podiums at La Sarthe, as well three class titles in the American Le Mans Series. Even being a 53 years old driver, Johnny O would be a pro required for any team, specially for a return to Le Mans like he will do next month.
Along with him, the amateur drivers will be Oliver Bryant and Mark Patterson. Patterson had all kinds of experience during the last six years, as he raced in LMP1, LMP2 and LMGTE machinery, be it at Le Mans or the regional series like the ELMS and ALMS. He is coming from a full ELMS season with Murphy Prototypes in 2015, and now moved to United Autosport and the LMP3 class. His long GT career with United Autosport in the GT3s may be handy as well his various endurance racing outings. Bryant is the youngest driver of the team, but has long GT3 experience in the British GT and in the Blancpain Endurance Series may be in favor of the 30 years old driver. He is also briging the main spronsor of the effort, being it Duncan Taylor Artisanal.
The C7.R GTE is in route to Belgium to be prepared by ProSpeed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
PHOTOS: Buddy Club International, Pirelli World Challenge