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Roar Before 24 Sunday Notebook
- Updated: January 10, 2016
***The Ford GT had its first official accident on Sunday morning when Dirk Mueller nosed the No. 66 car into the barriers. The car sustained only minor damage and returned for the seventh and final session of the weekend with a carbon nose. Unofficially, it was at least the second crash, following a heavy accident by Scott Maxwell in testing last year at Sebring.
***IMSA is evaluating the possibility of splitting the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round into separate races again, due to an expected increase in full-season entries. The 2014 event saw separate two-hour P/GTLM and PC/GTD races, with a combined entry of 55 entries, compared to 35 entries in a combined four-class, two-hour and 40-minute race last year. IMSA VP of Competition Simon Hodgson did not say when a final decision would be made.
***Mazda could officially confirm its 2017 DPi involvement by as soon as Rolex 24 race week, according to motorsports director John Doonan. “If I can get it done by [the Rolex 24], I’d like to confirm it officially,” he told Sportscar365. It’s understood Mazda is leaning towards an alliance with chassis constructor Riley-Multimatic.
***After a deal with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports fell through at the last minute, Honda Performance Development hasn’t given up on hopes of seeing its re-worked ARX-04b return to the track. “It’s one of the reasons I’m here, to see if we can find a suitable partner to get it out on the track where it should be,” HPD VP and COO Steve Eriksen told Sportscar365.
***Eriksen has specifically targeted the Twelve Hours of Sebring for seeing the car’s potential return and is understood to have had discussions with a number of teams inside, and outside, of the IMSA paddock. He admitted it would be too late to assemble a program for Daytona.
***Andreas Wirth has been confirmed as the fourth driver in the DeltaWing DWC13 for the Rolex 24. The former Atlantic driver turned his first laps in the car this weekend alongside full-season drivers Katherine Legge and Sean Rayhall, plus NAEC pilot Andy Meyrick.
***This weekend marked the debut of IMSA’s new standard data logger system, which has been installed on all GTLM and GTD cars, and will roll out on prototypes beginning in 2017. The systems, which reportedly cost in the $15,000 range per car, is being used as part of the sanctioning body’s new Balance of Performance process.
***Marcel Fassler turned his first laps in a Corvette Racing entry in more than six years, or 2,296 days to be exact, when the 2012 World Endurance Champion and Audi factory driver on-loan took to the wheel of the No. 4 Corvette C7.R on Saturday. Fassler took part in the endurance races for the Pratt & Miller squad in 2009.
***Mirco Schultis turned laps in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca on Sunday afternoon. The German driver, who teamed with Renger van der Zande for much of the last two seasons, is however unlikely to take part in the Rolex 24 but has expressed the desire for other selected races this year.
***Those who have hopped of seeing Sabine Schmitz — originally on the entry list in the Frikadelli Porsche 911 GT3 R — take part in the Rolex 24 may get their wish as team owner Klaus Abbelen told Sportscar365 there’s a chance the ‘Ring Queen could race, depending on her filming commitments with Top Gear. Schmitz is currently on assignment in California.
***Frikadelli could take part in further IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races beyond Daytona, with Abbelen telling Sportscar365 there’s a “50/50 chance” of doing the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The VLN squad, taking part in its first race outside of the Nordschleife, is receiving logistical and operations support from Cole Scrogham’s group.
***Olivier Pla is shaping up to have a busy 2016 season as the newly signed Ford GT driver will take part in the FIA World Endurance Championship for the Blue Oval, as well as the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races with Michael Shank Racing. It’s also believed the Frenchman could be in line to rejoin Krohn Racing for the European Le Mans Series season.
***Former Walker Racing team manager Phil Howard has joined Alex Job Racing as its new team manager, having only just arrived in Florida on Tuesday. He will relocate to Florida from Indianapolis either later this month or in February. Coincidentally, his first race with Job will see him reunited with Team Falken Tire driver Wolf Henzler, who will be in the Job team’s No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
***Howard also told Sportscar365 that with Job’s team fully stocked, no other Walker Racing crew members from the Team Falken Tire program have joined the team. Derrick Walker has entered his new role as SCCA’s President.
***Patrick Lindsey’s accident on Saturday night saw a rare issue, as contact from hitting an exposed concrete barrier sent the strut into the shock tower on the right front of the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. The Park Place crew worked until midnight for repairs, and continued at work Sunday morning to get the car back out on track.
***Longtime engineer Laurent Coppee, who most recently worked for Porsche North America and 8Star Motorsports, passed away suddenly last week. Sportscar365 sends its condolences to Coppee’s family at this difficult time.
Tony DiZinno contributed to this report