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CTSC Daytona Test Notebook

John Dagys’ Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge notebook from Daytona December Test…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 12 cars took part in Wednesday’s single-day Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge test at Daytona, which featured two one-hour sessions, in the public debut of new-for-2018 GT4 machinery and the TCR class.

***Platinum-rated drivers were disallowed from taking part in the test, prompting a change of plans for both Multimatic and Mercedes-AMG, which had Billy Johnson and Jeroen Bleekemolen, respectively, entered to test.

***Bleekemolen was replaced in the No. 48 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 by Damien Faulkner, after the German manufacturer’s second nominated driver Dominik Baumann, who was flown in to replace Bleekemolen, had licensing issues with IMSA.

***Former Audi DTM driver Rahel Frey was the test driver for the Audi of America-entered Audi R8 LMS GT4, which was one of three different cars Brad Kettler’s group operated at the test, alongside an Audi RS 3 LMS TCR car and Volkswagen’s new Golf GTI TCR.

***Kettler joked that it was a “three-ring circus” for his operation, but told Sportscar365 that solid progress was made on all fronts.

***A total of four Audi GT4s have been sold for Continental Tire Challenge GS competition next year, with seven of the German manufacturer’s new TCR cars set to race in the class beginning with the four-hour season-opener at Daytona, according to Audi Sport customer racing North America manager Tristan Herbert.

***Longtime ST entrants BimmerWorld have stepped up to GS competition, with James Clay and Tyler Cooke turning laps in its new BMW M4 GT4 during the test.

***At least six Mercedes-AMG GT4s are expected to be on the GS class grid next year, with Murillo Racing having recently taken delivery of its first car, for what’s understood to be a planned two-car program. Both Winward Racing/HTP and Team TGM, meanwhile, have announced entries as well.

***Reigning GS class champions RS1, which was present with its Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR at the test, is believed to have taken delivery of a Mercedes-AMG GT4 as well.

***C360R had both of its Audi TCRs in attendance, alongside a new JDC-Miller Motorsports entry for Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson, who will move from ST class competition. A fourth Audi customer entry was fielded by Racing, which crashed in the afternoon session.

***The Audi TCR ran at a base weight of 1255kg, with IMSA having evaluated incremental weight adjustments up to 30kg, along with three different power levels, according to Kettler. The car, without ballast, comes out to 1238kg.

***Official times were not recorded, but GT4 and TCR performance levels were reportedly within two seconds of each other, causing concern among team owners and drivers in the paddock. Performance changes are expected to be made by IMSA prior to the Roar to widen the gap.

***Drivers gave praise to Continental’s all-new TCR-specific tire, which will be standard across all cars next year. The tire began development in VLN competition on BMW 235iR cars earlier this year. “We’re quite happy with where we’ve landed. The performance is good,” Continental Tire IMSA Product Manager Kevin Fandozzi told Sportscar365.

***In addition to the Audi and VW TCR cars, which were driven by Andrew Davis and Jon Miller, respectively, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR made its debut in the hands of North and South American importer BAM! Racing. Martin Jensen handled testing duties of that car.

***Alfa TCR USA has scheduled an open test at Palm Beach International Raceway on Jan. 18 for prospective customers to sample the car. Project leader Tim Munday told Sportscar365 that interest remain high, despite not yet having a confirmed customer for Continental Tire Challenge.

***While not present at the test, HPD has received multiple inquiries for the all-new Honda Civic Type R TCR car, which is also eligible for series competition.

***TCR Technical Director Andreas Bellu and technical delegate Florian Eich were among the representatives from WSC in attendance at the first-ever IMSA-sanctioned test with the touring car platform.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Andrew

    December 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    There’s something wrong when TCR and GT4 are running lap times so close IMSA will have to ballast the TCR cars to build a gap. Makes TCR seem as redundant as it felt earlier this year, sadly ST is pretty much done in by the coding secrecy in modern cars. But then it seems like TCR was over-tuned and should have been more heavily restricted toward street spec. But guess we’re stuck with it now and the end of the MX-5 outside of the MX-5 cup races.

    • Binky

      December 6, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Wait, ST is dead? I thought TCR was merely removed from ST into its own class this year.

      • John Dagys

        December 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

        ST has one more year left. It will be phased out for 2019.

        • Slicks in the wet

          December 7, 2017 at 10:47 am

          ST will be as alive as PC last year. It was already dying a year ago.

  2. CuriousMinds

    December 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Who was driving when the 10 car crashed?

  3. Jack

    December 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I don’t see the big deal with tcr cars and gt4 cars going the same speed.

    • Brandon

      December 7, 2017 at 7:52 am

      It’s concerning from a cost perspective. GT4 cars are going for about $250k while a TCR car is about half of that. Car owners want to be sure they’re getting enough speed for their money.

  4. Pierre

    December 6, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    No surprise on the TCR laptimes. I lapped quicker than a 570S gt4 in a rs3 lms. Will be interesting to see how they gap the field.

    • Pete

      December 6, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Hi, Pierre! *waves*

  5. Slicks in the wet

    December 7, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Straight up broke this series.

    • Kyle

      December 7, 2017 at 5:51 am

      Do you remember the state of it two years ago?

      • Slicks in the wet

        December 7, 2017 at 10:48 am

        Yeah when Chevy ruined it and forced IMSA to go GT4 so people could have a chance???

    • tracer

      December 7, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Broken? Nah. 2018 will be a banner year in GTS.

      • Slicks in the wet

        December 7, 2017 at 11:01 am

        This isn’t supposed to be a Blancpain GT series.

        What relevancy do Mclarens have in this series? The Aston Martins were pushing it enough when it was Camaro vs Mustang.

        What relevancy do TCR cars have to street going cars? Some don’t even retain their drive layout. What’s the point?

        They’ve destroyed the grassroots of this in order to chase cars that are no longer even slightly related to normal street cars.

        I may take all this back when it’s like a mini VLN race every week, though.

        Right now, I’m beyond skeptical that a growth, feeder series needs this level of preparation vs cheap cars and close racing.

        • tracer

          December 7, 2017 at 11:19 pm

          But these are your complaints, and not those of the paddock. GT racing has decidedly gone in the direction of turn-key OEM offerings, and rightfully so given the myriad of issues teams face these days when building race cars out of modern production cars. GT4 is as road relevant as it gets. Just look at the spec sheets and builds for any one of the current crop of GT4 cars available to customers. Every single one is built on the same exact platform, using the very same engine as the model you can buy in the showroom. The difference is that all the race car tech and engineering has been built and tested via the manufacturer, including (most important of all) the electronics and coding. While I agree that TCR variants are a bit out there when it comes to linking the road car model to the racing version, the regs have managed to produce FWD racers that are as exciting as that platform will allow.

          My point is that at the IMSA and PWC level, GT4 and TCR make absolute sense from a business standpoint for the existing and interested teams running in each series. They’re all voting with the checkbooks, and that vote appears to be in overwhelming favor of the new/developing format.

          Grassroots racing and racecar development is still alive and well… you just have to go to SCCA, NASA or VLN events to see it.

          • Slicks in the wet

            December 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

            You’re right. They are my complaints.

            In a comment section. Online.

            I’ll give you that it might be okay
            ..I sure hated the Prorotype Challenge series last year to start, but it became one of the best series to watch by the end of the year.

            I just miss 40+ car fields of VERY different machinery vs “supercars” and fake FWD frankensteins.

  6. Chips O'Toole

    December 7, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Hopefully someone fields at least one of those Alfa’s…..

  7. Shane

    December 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hey John, what happened to LAP Motorsports MINI project? I haven’t heard anything since August.

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