IndyCar podium finisher JR Hildebrand will join NTE Sport in their IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship debut at this month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The team will field an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in the GTD class for the debut, making the step up for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Series.
Hildebrand is most famous for coming within one corner of winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, only to crash out, handing the win to Dan Wheldon with only a few hundred metres to go. He has previous sportscar racing experience in the American Le Mans Series, but this will be his first attempt at the Rolex 24.
“I can’t wait to join the guys down in Daytona and looking forward to my first Rolex 24,” said Hildebrand. “It’s such a great way to kick off the year and I’m excited for the challenges it presents.
“Over the last few years I’ve ventured outside of IndyCar more often and every time it reminds me why I love getting behind the wheel even more.”
“The IMSA calendar has so many of the iconic U.S. circuits on it, some of which I haven’t raced on since F2000 but still love, adding Daytona to my schedule this year is great and hopefully there’s more to come.”
The other drivers in the effort include Andrew Davis, Alan Mehti and Don Yount.
Davis, a veteran sportscar racer with 19 starts at the Rolex 24, has previously campaigned a range of GTD cars in the primary IMSA series. In 2020, he raced for Team Hardpoint, also in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Don Yount also has experience in IMSA, racing an Oreca 07 LMP2 to the podium in 2020’s 12 Hours of Sebring, for Performance Tech Motorsports Motorsport.
Metni, meanwhile, is an IMSA newcomer, having previously raced in the Am class of GT World Challenge America in a Porsche 911 GT3 R, finishing third in the class standings in 2020.
“It’s great to be able to build on our first year in the Michelin Pilot Challenge to be able to run in the GTD class this year at such an iconic event,” said team owner Paul Mata. “The field looks incredibly stout, and this year’s race looks like it will be highly competitive.”