***Freedom Autosport’s Liam Dwyer is sporting a special helmet design (pictured above) in tribute to former 24 Hours of Le Mans and Rolex 24 at Daytona class winner Yoshimi Katayama, who passed away last year. Katayama was a factory Mazda driver for nearly three decades. “The importance of Katayama-san’s contributions to Mazda are unmeasurable,” Dwyer said.
***The tribute helmet will be displayed at Mazda’s headquarters in Japan following this weekend.
***Friday’s Fox Factory 120 will be Dwyer’s final race for a while, as the retired Marine Staff Sgt. is set for a series of surgeries to his legs. Dwyer, who lost his left leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, is scheduled for surgery to his right knee later this month, prior to a more comprehensive procedure early next year to fit a new prosthetic left leg. If all goes to plan, Dwyer is targeting a return to the wheel next August.
***A total of 31 cars are set for this afternoon’s race. It was nearly one less, following a heavy accident for the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren 570S GT4 of Chris Green in Wednesday’s Promoter Test Day. The car, however, was repaired in time for Thursday’s action.
***Champions in both GS and ST will be decided in the two-hour race. With a 16-point lead over Bodymotion Racing’s Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels, the RS1 duo of Dillon Machavern and Dylan Murcott need to finish 10th or better to claim the championship. Just finishing the race would also give the title to the No. 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, unless Hindman and Cassels win.
***In ST, the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman of Eric Foss can clinch with an 11th place finish or better, and can still claim the championship if the title-contending No. 17 RS1 Porsche of Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante finish fourth or worse.
***Tiebreakers would go to the No. 12 BodyMotion Porsche (GS) and No. 56 Murillo Porsche (ST) based on the number of wins this year.
***There was drama in qualifying as Murcott’s Porsche ground to a halt on track in the closing moments of GS qualifying. The issue for the car is currently unknown.
***The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca class-winning Audi S3, as well as the MINI JCWs have received turbo boost reductions for the season finale. The 20 mbar reduction for each car has been the only Balance of Performance adjustment since last month’s round.
***Mike Johnson has joined VOLT Racing this weekend to assist the team with race strategy. The Stevenson Motorsports team manager has yet to firm up his 2018 plans, amid Stevenson’s ceasing of operations following tomorrow’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
***Both the Audi R8 LMS GT4 and Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R are now available for sale to customers. The mid-engined Audi is priced at $232,000 USD plus taxes, with deliveries set to begin in December, with the Camaro for $259,000 and available via Pratt & Miller via CamaroGT4R.com.
***It’s understood Audi has received more than 25 letters of intent from U.S.-based customers. The German manufacturer will hold an open test with its GT4 and RS 3 LMS TCR cars on Tuesday at Road Atlanta, to give prospective drivers a chance to sample both models.
***Silly season is heating up in the Continental Tire Challenge paddock, with both RS1 and Murillo Racing understood to be finalizing a switch to Mercedes-AMG GT4 machinery next year. Bill Riley, meanwhile, told Sportscar365 that Riley Motorsports is likely to run at least one Mercedes in the GS class as well.
***Alfa Romeo is poised to make its IMSA debut with its Giulietta TCR model. Sportscar365 understands that paddock veteran Tim Munday, formerly of BAM!, has secured the North American distributorship contract for the car.
***Watch the season-ending Fox Factory 120 Friday at 1:40 p.m. EDT live on IMSA.tv, with delayed coverage on FS1 to air Sun. Oct. 15 at 7 a.m. EDT.