Coinciding with today's announcement by Automobile Club de l'Ouest of the entry list for this June's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dempsey/Del Piero Racing officially confirmed details of the program for the new sports car racing team.
Announced last week by Italian soccer star Alessandro Del Piero and actor/racer Patrick Dempsey (LEFT), the squad was confirmed Friday as having its entry accepted by the ACO, placing the Dempsey/Del Piero team on the entry list for the 2013 24 Hours Le Mans in a Michelin-shod GTE-Am class Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The Dempsey/Del Piero Racing entry will be fielded in partnership with the Proton Competition team. In addition to the 24 Hours, the team will field a two car GTC-class effort in the 2013 American Le Mans Series.
The 2013 Dempsey/Del Piero GTC-class entries will be driven by 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series champion Andrew Davis, who will pair with Michael Avenatti and multi-year GT3 Cup champion Bob Faieta in the No. 10 Porsche 911 GT3, which takes its number from Del Piero's familiar soccer jersey. Dempsey will share his No. 27 Porsche 911 GT3 with three-time Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champion, and four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Andy Lally, as well as longtime racing partner Joe Foster.
“What great news today here in Paris,” said Dempsey, who was in attendance at the ACO announcement in France. “Our entire team is excited to work with Porsche, Michelin and the Proton Competition team to bring our 24 Hours of Le Mans goal to fruition. This news, combined with the opportunity I have to run with Andy Lally in the ALMS, gives our new program with Alessandro Del Piero added excitement for sure. It should be an exciting 2013 for all of us.”
Dempsey and Foster have raced together as co-drivers for the last six years but this season, with Del Piero, Avenatti and pro drivers Lally and Davis, will be their first time racing with Porsche.
"With Dempsey/Del Piero Racing joining our strong group of customer teams, both in the American Le Mans Series and at the Le Mans 24 race, Porsche Motorsport continues to count the sport's most hard-working squads as Porsche racers,” said Jens Walther, president of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. “Dempsey/Del Piero Racing has followed the recommended path for a successful sports car team, gaining experience at multiple tracks with multiple cars to reach this point, and the addition of top-flight drivers make them serious competitors, both in ALMS and at Le Mans. From my personal negotiations with Patrick, Michael and Joe, I am convinced that this new affiliation will be terrific for everyone involved."
Avenatti, as a key partner in the new Dempsey/Del Piero Racing collaboration, is looking forward to the full GTC season, as well as his first Le Mans start.
“A great deal of off-season work and planning has gone into these recent announcements and I am heading into the 2013 racing season with more optimism and anticipation than ever before,” Avenatti said. “The high-profile nature of the team will keep us in the spotlight but, more importantly, with great drivers like Andrew and Bobby, we have a realistic chance to win every time we race.”
Davis drove a Porsche 911 GT3 to his 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Series title. He also co-drove in GTC with Avenatti at last year's season-ending Petit Le Mans. “I am extremely excited to be joining Dempsey/Del Piero Racing for the 2013 American Le Mans Series,” Davis said. “Michael Avenatti gave me an amazing opportunity to drive with him at last year's Petit Le Mans, and I was instantly impressed with both his on-track performance and his passion for motorsports. Michael, Bobby and I are expecting great results driving together in the highly competitive GTC category.”
Dempsey and Lally have been on-track competitors for years but will co-drive together for the first time in 2013.
“I think this will be a great fit,” said Lally, who co-drove on the highest placing Porsche team at this past weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona. “I know Patrick wants to win, he is very focused and driven. I always push my teammates and having raced against him in recent years, watching his progress, and seeing how fast he has become I am excited to get to Sebring and get this season started."
Foster has also been Dempsey's motorsports business partner for nearly a decade.
“We've got some opportunities this season to grow the team and we needed to shake things up a bit as regards who drives with whom,” Foster said. “I'm super excited to have Andy and Andrew here to support Michael and Patrick. They are both proven winners and experts in the Porsche which will help our learning curve. I'll have plenty of time on-track this season once we are able to announce the rest of our program!”
In addition to the Dempsey/Del Piero combine, the ALMS will be further represented at Le Mans by the SRT Vipers and Corvette Racing in GTE Pro, while in LMP2, Scott Tucker's Level 5 Motorsports will return with a Honda ARX-03b entry. The team has won the last two ALMS championships in class and three straight titles dating back to the 2010 Prototype Challenge crown.
Extreme Speed Motorsports has one entry in GTE Am with its Tequila Patrón-backed Ferrari F458 Italia, having received one of the at-large bids from the ALMS after winning two races in 2012 – including Petit Le Mans – and finishing third in the GT championship. TRG, meanwhile, is on the reserve list for GTE. The GT champion at Le Mans in 2002, the team hopes to make its comeback under the TRG-AMR North America banner this year with an Aston Martin Vantage GTE. It is the same car TRG-AMR North America expects to debut during the 2013 ALMS.
“This is an understandably exciting news for a group of our best teams and competitors to receive. ALMS representation at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has historically been strong, producing exciting wins and many proud moments for North American fans,” said Scott Atherton, ALMS president and CEO. “Whether its familiar faces like Corvette Racing and Level 5 Motorsports or relative newcomers to Le Mans such as SRT, Extreme Speed and Patrick Dempsey, we are proud to be represented by them and offer our heartiest congratulations and best wishes in their race toward one of the world's great motorsport events.”