Mazda Cup’s IMSA Era Kicks Off at Daytona
Gresham Wagner and Michael Carter shared out the wins during the first IMSA-sanctioned meeting of the Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires held at Daytona International Speedway last week.
Wagner won the first of two races in dramatic fashion after a late full-course yellow period resulted in a green-white-checkered dash to the finish.
The pole-sitting driver endured a tough start to the race, dropping to as low as 12th, but made up ground after that slip and was in the top-five heading onto the final lap.
Wagner then caught a strong draft from the leaders heading around the last stretch of banking, which enabled him to snatch the win by 0.108 seconds from Sam Paley.
In race two, reigning series champion Carter prevailed after making a pass for the lead into Bus Stop moments before a full-course yellow locked in the order.
Carter was trailing Wagner arriving into the final five minutes of the 45-minute encounter when Jenson Altzman crashed at turn two, prompting Carter’s team to deliver a radio message requesting a swift overtake that was duly delivered.
Jared Thomas also got past Wagner in the last flash of action at the Bus Stop to capture second and improve on his third-place podium result gained in Thursday’s wild finish.
Asian LMS Entry Updates
***Colin Noble and Tony Wells will seek to defend their Asian Le Mans LMP3 title together in the No. 9 Nielsen Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan. Matt Bell and Rodrigo Sales will team up to drive Nielsen’s No. 8 car. The British squad is reverting to Ligier machinery for its third Asian LMS campaign after running Normas in 2019-20.
***IMSA Prototype Challenge racer Max Hanratty will make his series debut driving for LMP3 outfit RLR MSport. The American will share the team’s Ligier with ELMS regular Malthe Jakobsen and Bashar Mardini who competed in Porsche Carrera Cup Italia last year.
***The GT grid is also taking shape. In addition to HubAuto Racing announcing its switch to Mercedes-AMG this morning, most of the Ferrari lineups have been confirmed. They include the return of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Oswaldo Negri Jr and Francesco Piovanetti in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari GT3 Evo 2020, and the confirmation of Come Ledogar, Takeshi Kimura and LMP2 ace Mikkel Jensen at Car Guy Racing.
***Formula Racing has opted for an all-Danish lineup headlined by Ferrari works driver Nicklas Nielsen. He’ll team up with Johnny Laursen and Frederik Paulsen.
Other News & Notes
***Walkenhorst Motorsport has launched its own junior team that will be run by double Nürburgring 24 winner and 2001 American Le Mans Series champion Joerg Mueller. The 51-year-old BMW veteran will also drive the No. 35 BMW M6 GT3 in this year’s N24 and NLS enduros alongside junior squad members Sami-Matti Trogen and Mario von Bohlen.
***Additionally, DTM Trophy race winner Ben Tuck has been promoted to Walkenhorst’s Nürburgring Pro lineup. GT3 rookie Tuck will share the No. 34 BMW with David Pittard and Christian Krognes.
***Equipe Vitesse will return to the NLS next season with a Goodyear-shod Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo entered into SP9-Am. Michael Heimrich, Arno Klasen and Rudi Adams will drive.
***Kessel Racing is set to make its 24H Series debut in round two of the 2021 season at Mugello. The Swiss outfit is also expected to run its single Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo in the events that follow the 12-hour race in Italy on March 26-27.
***W&D Racing Team is returning to the GT4 European Series after spending last year in Italian GT. Max Tresoldi and Paolo Meloni will pilot the team’s BMW M4 GT4.
***Japanese publication Auto Sport reports that Super Taikyu has elected not to seek a replacement for its canceled season finale, which was due to take place on Jan. 23 but was called off due to rising coronavirus infection rates. The new season is due to commence with pre-season testing on Feb. 27. Mercedes-AMG squad HIRIX Good Day Racing has been confirmed as the 2020 champion.
***D’Station Racing has announced plans to contest the next Super Taikyu season with GT3 and GT4 versions of the Aston Martin Vantage. The Japanese squad’s GT3 will be driven by Tomonobu Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino and Tsubasa Kondo. D’Station is continuing in Super Taikyu despite its full-season entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship.
***Team WRT is poised to return to ADAC GT Masters with a two-car Audi program. The Belgian squad is set to shuffle its driving crew for its second season, according to team principal Vincent Vosse who told the ADAC website: “Last year, the series was new to all our team members. We want to use the experience gained in 2020 to come back stronger this year. I cannot reveal anything regarding the drivers. However, for various reasons, we will have a slightly different lineup.”
***Reigning WEC GTE-Am champion Emmanuel Collard is set to drive a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the 2021 Ultimate Cup Series. Collard has teamed up with Charles-Henri Samani – one of his co-drivers at the 24H Dubai – to drive for the Racetivity team.
***The Le Mans Esports Series has been extended to a new 10-year rolling license agreed between the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Motorsport Games. The updated deal replaces an initial agreement announced in 2019.
Le Mans Esports Series CEO Gerard Neveu said: “This extension of the joint venture was the natural next step in our partnership. We look forward to working together for many years to come to create best-in-class racing games and esports that reflect the values and quality of the iconic Le Mans brand.”
***Racing Spirit of Leman, which operated the Cool Racing LMP2 program before the Swiss team went independent for 2021, is aiming to “bounce back” following the split. In an interview with Endurance-info, team boss Patrick Barbier said that RSL is hoping to run its pair of Ligier LMP3s in Europe this year.
***American company Axiom Space last Tuesday named the four individuals who will form its crew for the first-ever fully private space mission to the International Space Station. Involved in the project as the crew’s backup pilot is John Shoffner, who drives a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the NLS and Nürburgring 24 for GetSpeed Performance.