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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 eEuroparts.com 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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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