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Mann Returning To IMS in Latest Stop in Busy Driving, Coaching Career

As Pippa Mann describes it, competing in this weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS sports car race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course will be “slightly” different than her seven previous starts at the facility in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

She is joking, of course. This will be a lot different. However, the task at hand is similar.

“Go fast, don’t hurt the car,” she said.

England native Mann, who has lived in Indianapolis for more than a decade, has largely been out of the public racing eye since finishing a career-best 16th in the 2019 “500.” Her day job involves serving as a coach and co-driver in various U.S. road racing series, and she recently became a part owner of a BMW M2 CS team in the World Racing League, a collection of endurance races which will complete its season Dec. 3-5 at Circuit of The Americas. She serves as the team’s resident coach and co-driver.

In June, Mann was part of the driving quartet for the Giti Tire WS Racing Girls’ Only team which won the SP8 Class at the 49th ADAC Total 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife. That’s the 12.9-mile, historic track in Germany that Jackie Stewart nicknamed “The Green Hell.”

A year ago, one of Mann’s former “500” crew members introduced her to Sean Gibbons, a Bronze-level sports car driver competing in the SRO GT4 America Sprint X Am Championship. Gibbons and OGH Motorsports teammate Sam Owen were seeking a professional driver to join them in endurance races such as this weekend’s Intercontinental GT Challenge event at IMS, and they struck a deal to make this a Pro-Am entry. Thus, Mann will make her official IMS road course debut in the No. 7 Valkyrie Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.

Mann will bring backing from Bell Techlogix, which she introduced to the “500” several years ago, and she will have Indy Women in Tech featured on her helmet for the first time. The Indianapolis-based initiative helps women enter, re-enter or transition their careers to tech and STEM roles by providing financial support, mentoring, training and education.

“That’s really cool to have them on my helmet for the first time,” Mann said.

Valkyrie is an artificial intelligence and machine learning firm based in Austin, Texas.

Mann said the variety of cars she has been driving is good preparation for this weekend’s event. For example, one of her clients races a Porsche Cup car in the International GT Series. She helps set up the car, provides the data laps and spends most of the weekend helping him go faster.

“Then on Sunday I get to hop back in and share the driving with him in a slightly longer endurance race,” she said.

Gibbons and Owen will get most of the team’s laps this weekend as they are full-season Sprint X drivers. Mann hopes to get a few laps in Friday’s 90-minute practice open to all competitors.

“They’re making me feel very welcome, but I’m certainly the guest driver in the program,” she said. “But this is what I do: I show up, I drive a variety of different cars, I go fast, don’t hurt the car. That’s what I do.

“For me, it’s really cool to get to take part in a high-level race like the 8 Hour right here in my (adopted) hometown, in my backyard and racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, even if it’s in a slightly different car in a slightly different direction. It also will be my first time on this road course on slick tires, which will be fun.”

Mann isn’t the only one facing a unique challenge this weekend. Normally, Gibbons and Owen compete in GT4 categories based on driver rankings. But this weekend, GT4 is a class of its own, which means they will be competing against what Mann calls “some pretty stout driver lineups that they wouldn’t normally be up against.” There will be 13 entrants in the class.

“We’re here and hopefully going to have a good day on Sunday,” Mann said.

Weekend tickets are available at IMS.com. The schedule (all times ET):

Friday, Oct. 15

9:20-9:50 a.m.: Bronze Test Session

11:20 a.m.-12:50 p.m.: Free Practice

Saturday, Oct. 16

8:30-10 a.m.: Pre-Qualifying

2-2:15 p.m.: Qualifying 1

2:22-2:32 p.m.: Qualifying 2

2:45-3 p.m.: Qualifying 3

4:20-4:35 p.m.: Pole Shootout top-15

Sunday, Oct. 17

10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS

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