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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Daytona Weekend Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Michelin Pilot Challenge weekend notebook from Daytona…

Photo: Automatic Racing

***The No. 74 Forty7 Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR hit the tire wall in wet conditions during Practice 1 with Olympic snowboarder AJ Muss behind the wheel. The damage was not serious and the team had the car back on track for Practice 2 on Sunday.

***Muss finished 20th in the men’s parallel giant slalom event during the 2018 Pyeongchang winter games mere months after a near-fatal medical condition left him in a coma. Muss remains a member of the U.S. snowboarding team and is training for another Olympic appearance in parallel to his budding racing career.

***The No. 26 Fast Track Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Stevan McAleer, Robbie Dalgeish, and Beitske Visser suffered through multiple technical gremlins on Thursday that cost them most of Practice 2 and all of Practice 3 as well as forcing the team to miss qualifying. They will start at the back of the 33-car GS field.

***2019 GS Daytona runners-up Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson and Automatic Racing briefly considered utilizing the same previous-generation Aston Martin Vantage GT4 chassis that they drove to the class podium a year ago before ultimately opting to utilize the more modern version of the car.

***On Wednesday, the team unveiled a new livery (pictured above) on the sister No. 09 entry of Rob Ecklin and Ramin Abdolvahabi ,which again features Stoner Car Care products.

***Accomplished sports car and open wheel racer Lyn St. James is on-site this weekend in a mentorship role supporting Ford Performance driver Hailie Deegan. The Ford Mustang GT4 that Deegan is sharing with fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe this weekend is decked out in a commemorative livery that St. James carried when she became the first woman to take an IMSA GT-class solo victory in 1985 driving a Jack Roush-entered Mustang.

***Two additional Mustang GT4s have been entered at Daytona by Multimatic Motorsports for drivers Scott Maxwell, Marco Signoretti, Austin Cindric, and Seb Priaulx. While Multimatic has nothing confirmed beyond the season opening race for these entries, it is understood that Deegan is slated for future outings with the program.

***Ryan Norman said his opportunity with Bryan Herta Autosport came in part due to a relationship developed during his time racing as Colton Herta’s teammate in Indy Lights. Following the conclusion of the 2019 Lights season, the elder Herta invited Norman and several other drivers to test the team’s Hyundai Veloster N TCR at PBIR and got the call to join BHA the following day.

***Norman credited his co-driver Gabby Chaves for helping to ease his transition into sports cars, noting that Chaves’ similar background in open-wheel racing has been helpful when trying to come to grips with his new environment.

***Their entry will carry the No. 33 this season to honor Reese Imhoff, the son of Director of Marketing and Communications at Hyundai North America Paul Imhoff, who lost a prolonged battle with cancer last March. Reese used the number on his baseball and lacrosse jerseys. HTP-Winward Racing had utilized No. 33 in previous seasons, but gladly acceded to the request by BHA to free up the number in tribute to the inspirational teenager.

***KohR Motorsports is one of several teams making the switch to Aston Martin machinery in the Michelin Pilot Challenge paddock this year. Team principal Dean Martin told Sportscar365 that the final decision to sign with the British marque only occurred shortly before Christmas. That set up a challenging timeline that required Aston Martin staff to work through the holidays to ensure the car would arrive in the US in time for the start of the season.

***While the team was unable to participate at the Roar with its Aston Martin due to the compressed timeline, drivers Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy were able to complete a shakedown at Homestead-Miami Speedway after the car was delivered on January 10.

***The team, which has long been associated with the Ford brand, is also running a Mustang GT4 this weekend for drivers Bob Michaelian and Rich Golinello under the KohRTex Motorsports moniker.

***It marks the professional racing return for Golinello, who suffered significant injuries in an SRO America crash at VIR last April which sidelined him for the rest of the season. The silver lining of the crash was that during surgery doctors discovered early stages of kidney cancer which they were able to successfully treat, and which might not have been discovered if not for the accident.

***Golinello has since made his return behind the wheel in NASA club racing and was on track at Daytona in a recent Daytona Audi Club event in preparation for his return to the IMSA paddock.

***Ian Lacy Racing is planning a three-race Pilot Challenge program for its Mustang GT4 and drivers Drew Staveley and Frank Gannett. In addition the curtain-opener at Daytona, the Utah-based team expects to contest the races at Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Team owner Lacy told Sportscar365 that while they hoped to be at Sebring as well, its proximity on the calendar to the SRO America street race at St. Petersburg effectively ruled it out.

***Team TGM, which made the switch to Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R machinery over the offseason, is working on selling its Mercedes-AMG GT4 machinery. The team has three race-ready cars and one additional chassis that has sustained damage that are currently available.

***TGM owner/driver Ted Giovanis has opted to forgo a season in Ferrari Challenge to go alongside his Pilot Challenge program, opting instead to take part in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge America championship, which serves as a companion series on many of the Pilot Challenge weekends. Giovanis indicated the decision was made in order to get more track time without adding extra weekends to his schedule.

***Giovanis is also planning to test a GT3-spec Ferrari at Monza later this year with an eye on potentially going GT3 racing in the future.

***The Camaros that TGM acquired are the ex-Robinson Racing chassis that were raced by Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis for most of the past two SRO America seasons.

***The BMW Endurance Challenge is set to get underway at 1:15 p.m. ET with live coverage on the new NBC Sports Gold Trackpass. International viewers can continue to watch live streaming on IMSA.tv, with IMSA Radio available worldwide with no geoblocks. 

John Dagys contributed to this report

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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