Experience. Passion. Results.

John Farano and the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA Capture the Driver and Team Championships

By Mark Robinson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A season that began with frustration from being bumped out of the chance to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January ended in jubilation Saturday night for John Farano and Tower Motorsport.

By winning the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) portion of the Motul Petit Le Mans for a third consecutive year, Farano and the No. 8 Tower ORECA LMP2 07 wrapped up the driver and team titles in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class. The 62-year-old Farano also earned the Jim Trueman Award as the top Bronze-rated driver in LMP2, opening the door for him to race in next year’s 24 Hour of Le Mans.

“We all start off with goals at the beginning of the year,” Farano said, “and to achieve what we did this year with relatively a new team, it’s one huge accomplishment, that’s for sure. To win the race and do it that way (to win the championship) as well, really caps things off.”

Driving the No. 8 with Rui Pinto de Andrade and Louis Deletraz, they lit it up when it got dark at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Deletraz led 59 of the last 66 laps, making the winning pass on Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA with a half-hour to go in the 10-hour race.

It was the second win of the year for the No. 8 following WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in May, to go along with a pair of second-place results. Tower finished 116 points ahead of Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel (No. 18 Era Motorsports) in the driver standings and 79 points better than the defending class champion No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA in the team battle.

“C’mon! How much fun can this be?” Farano said. “There’s no better fun to have than winning and standing on that podium. I mean, that’s absolutely awesome. It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

It wasn’t quite as fun in the Rolex 24 that opened the season. Deletraz was leading late until IndyCar ace Colton Herta muscled the No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA past through the Le Mans Chicane with just 12 minutes remaining. The car-to-car contact was reviewed by Race Control but no penalties were assessed, allowing Herta to complete a miraculous recovery that saw the No. 81 battle back from five laps down to win.

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“He wasn’t really happy with the move, but I thought it was clean, I was alongside of him in the (Le Mans Chicane) … and I had the inside lane,’’ Herta said. “It’s unfortunate. I didn’t want the race to end that way for them, but you know these things happen, I guess. And I’m really happy with how it ended.”

Co-drivers Farano, Deletraz, de Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen and the No. 8 Tower ORECA still finished third in the Rolex 24 (that doesn’t pay season points for the class). After a seventh-place finish in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March, the No. 8 never placed lower than fourth the rest of the season.

Deletraz rode along with Farano for every race except one this year, opening eyes around the paddock with his pace. On Monday, Wayne Taylor Racing announced that the 25-year-old Swiss driver will be in the Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 for the 2023 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class.

After anchoring the Motul Petit Le Mans LMP2 win driving the final two hours, Deletraz had high praise for the entire Tower team.

“I think overall the whole year we didn’t make mistakes, didn’t get penalties,” he said. “In a race like this, having no contact (with other cars) and running, running all the time is key. Obviously, we were super-fast in the end.

“We set up the car more for the night than we did for the day. We knew we would struggle with the heat but as soon as the sun went down, I felt really comfortable and could finish strong.”

Titles earned, Farano already has his sights set on 2023. He confirmed that he will race for the WeatherTech Championship LMP2 crown again and is definitive on his opportunity to race at Le Mans for a second time.

“I’ve already got a car on order,” he said, “and I’ll be representing IMSA at Le Mans.”

Story by Mark Robinson. Originally published on IMSA.com.