***TCR cars have been slowed since last month’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, in an effort to widen the performance gap to the GS class. It’s understood the Audi RS 3 LMS is running a 290 horsepower engine map this weekend.
***Six of the seven TCR cars taking part this weekend are Audis, with only a single Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR having been entered by Rumcastle LLC.
***2014 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS champion Trent Hindman says he expects the TCR class to mesh well with the GS and ST machinery. “I think once we get to smaller tracks the gap is going to be much closer than it is here, but I think IMSA is doing a good job to keep enough separation between the classes,” he told Sportscar365.
***Beaux Barfield has returned to Race Director duties for the series, replacing Kyle Novak, who was announced this week as the new Verizon IndyCar Series Race Director. Barfield was initially confirmed as Race Director for IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda for 2018, a position that was temporarily filled by Mark Raffauf this weekend.
***Barfield served as Race Director in Continental Tire Challenge until 2016, during a transition period to Novak. “It takes him back; it’s a little bit of history repeating as far as the role he was in before,” IMSA President Scott Atherton told Sportscar365.
***Atherton said that additional appointments will be made in the coming weeks, including confirmation of the Race Director for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama.
***Mercedes-AMG has a strong presence in Daytona beach with four Mercedes-AMG GT4 customer teams (Winward Racing/HTP, Team TGM, Murillo Racing, DXDT Racing) debuting five of the machines. Those cars come in addition to the three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars that have been testing this weekend.
***Despite its announced two-car Mercedes effort, Team TGM is present at Daytona for the Roar Before the 24 with one of the new cars alongside a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. It’s understood the team did so to provide additional track time for drivers Ted Giovanis, Hugh Plumb, and Guy Cosmo while they await the delivery of their second car later this month.
***All GS-class Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports are of the “MR” variety this year as the series has shifted to fully SRO GT4 regulations for the upcoming season. Last year two versions of the car raced side-by-side in the series: the 2016 GS homologation and the Manthey Racing-designated GT4 variant.
***Newley crowned Sunoco 240 Challenge champion Rick Parfitt Jr. made his Continental Tire Challenge debut in GMG Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT4. Parfitt netted the prize for his championship-winning 2017 British GT3 season driving a Bentley Continental GT3 for Team Parker Racing. His co-driver last season? None other than 2017 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Seb Morris.
***Music fans may find the Parfitt surname to be a familiar one as Parfitt’s father was a singer and guitarist for the acclaimed British rock band Status Quo. The younger Parfitt has followed in his father’s footsteps by carving out a succesful music career away from the race track, having playing alongside legends including Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, and Bryan Ferry.
***NASCAR XFinity Series driver Chase Briscoe is the first to admit he’s stepping out of his comfort zone driving the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4, but the Mitchell, Ind. native will be returning to his racing roots after testing at Daytona wraps up. Briscoe, who finished sixth in his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year, will fly directly from Daytona to Tulsa, Okla. to compete in the renowned Chili Bowl midget race, where he made the A-Feature last year.
***When asked if anything from his dirt track roots translated to running a Mustang GT4 at the Daytona road course, Briscoe said the two had very little in common. “I wish it did!” he told Sportscar365. It’s definitely just two total opposites. Everything is so different from what I grew up doing and that’s one of the cool things for me.”
***Briscoe is joined in making his series debut by NASCAR regulars Ty Majeski and Cole Custer. Custer said it’s his first experience racing in a multi-class environment and said that has been the biggest adjustment. “That’s really been the hardest thing, trying to lose the least amount of time in traffic,” he told Sportscar365. “When you run up on a MINI Cooper, you have to figure out pretty quick what you’re going to do!”
***Longtime Multimatic ace Scott Maxwell has been coaching his young teammates in their transition from stock car racing. The three-time series champion said his racing calendar is not set beyond the season-opener at Daytona, but said he expects to be busy with possible Mustang GT4 programs in the U.S. and Europe.
***Alec Udell is on the grounds serving as a spotter for GMG Racing this weekend. Udell had been tabbed for GMG’s proposed Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup effort before that program hit a setback, and will be a part of the team’s GT3 plans this season according to team owner James Sofronas.
***While the MINI JCW Team is on site testing two cars in Daytona, team owner Luis Perocarpi is fulfilling a lifelong dream attending the Dakar Rally. Perocarpi indicated at the PRI trade show that his team has aspirations to add rally racing to its resume in the future if the right opportunity can be found.
***RS1 packed up early on Saturday evening, having completed its two-car testing plan with Spencer Pumpelly and reigning GS class champion Dillon Machavern in the team’s pair of Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs.
***A two-car full-season GS program is in the works for the team, although Pumpelly and Machavern are so far the only confirmed drivers.
John Dagys contributed to this report