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Christian Ried and Cooper MacNeil in our interview.

The IMSA season is revving up, and the German American alliance between Proton Competition and WeatherTech Racing already got the first races over with. But how did this cooperation come about, how does it work, and finally, how was the first joint race? Christian Ried and Cooper MacNeil face these and many other questions in our interview.


For Cooper MacNeil:

You've competed for Proton Racing before, and yet many fans are wondering: how did the collaboration to compete in IMSA with Proton Competition come up?
“We raced with Christian Reid and Proton Competition at Le Mans in 2016. So, we know Christian and his team very well. We have kept in contact since then, saying hi to him at Le Mans each year as well as at Sebring last spring when he raced and won there in WEC.
Proton has a lot of history and success with Porsche in Europe and the WEC. When we saw that he had purchased the No. 911 Porsche RSR from CORE at the end of last year and planned to run it at Daytona we gave him a call. Although he was disappointed he wasn’t able to drive at the Rolex 24 we were able to come to an agreement to have his team come the US and do a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship.”
For Christian Ried:
The notion of entering IMSA has existed for a while at Proton: When did the idea of collaborating with WeatherTech Racing come about?
“The idea of racing in the US has been appealing to us for a long time. 2000 and 2001 I entered the grid in Daytona with a 911 GT2 – together with my father Gerold and the Felbermayrs. It was an amazing experience. After that, we knew we would return to the States one day with a well-positioned team. We were just waiting for the right time. Every now and then, we casually talked with Cooper about a joint project in the US and that ever since he drove for us at Le Mans. When the withdrawal of the Porsche factory team from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship became apparent, the timing felt right to tackle the project. It’s a great challenge to close the gap Porsche left and to give American fans the chance to see the 911 RSR in action – for both, Proton Competition as well as WeatherTech Racing.3“
For Cooper MacNeil:
The first race is already history: where did hurdles lie in the collaboration in terms of communication, time difference, distance etc.? How does everything work?
“The only real hurdle was the limited time that the team had to get here to the states and get things ready for the Rolex 24. Our deal came together really late, like the first week of January. Christian and his team manager Giulio Pucci worked tirelessly to get things arranged to have the car on the grid just three weeks later. They had to navigate the COVID travel situation, get spares shipped over and get the car prepped for what is our biggest race of the season in IMSA. It was no small feat, but we didn’t miss a beat in preparation for the race.
On the driving side, when you have Porsche racing factory drivers Kevin Estre, Richard Lietz, and Gianmaria Bruni who really know these cars we were able to hit the ground running at the Roar Before the 24 test.
The only open issue was the new guy – me. I had never driven the RSR, so I had to get up to speed and learn the controls and nuances of the car. But with all of the miles the team has along with the three drivers helping me, they made it very easy to learn the car and the differences to a GT3 car. In the end, aside from our incident before the green flag, it was a successful first outing together.“
For Christian Ried:
You’re not located just around the corner: How does the German American alliance work out?
“It’s running as smoothly as expected. We have a workshop in Bolingbrook, Illinois, where WeatherTech Racing is at home. That’s our base. One of our engineers and three of our mechanics are constantly on site to prepare the 911 RSR. During the races, we’re a team of 28 people from Proton Competition alongside five from Porsche Motorsport in Weissach.”


For Cooper MacNeil:
You're back in a Porsche after some time: how does it feel to race in the RSR?
“The Porsche 911 RSR is a great machine. It is actually easier to drive than the Porsche 911 GT3 that I used to race. When you move that engine a few inches to the middle of the chassis it makes all of the difference in handling. The added power is also nice. The extra horses help to navigate traffic and just makes for a more fun lap. As we say in America, ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’.“


For Christian Ried:
And finally, a look into the future: What are your goals for the first season together?
“We want to win races, there’s no doubt about it. That’s our goal. We have the potential to achieve that with the 911 RSR and our talented drivers. Maybe we’ll need a few races to get things on the right track. But someday it will just click. That’s what we’re working for.”

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