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Pilot Challenge Daytona Weekend Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Michelin Pilot Challenge notebook from Daytona International Speedway…

Photo: John Dagys

***Paul Holton got an assist in setting a new track Michelin Pilot Challenge track record and earning pole position for today’s BMW Endurance Challenge in the form of a massive tow off of the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4, according to Compass Racing team owner Karl Thomson.

***Holton’s lap was already trending to be fast enough for pole when he exited the Bus Stop the perfect distance behind the Mustang GT4, which he slipstreamed all the way to the start finish line.

***The pole was Holton’s fourth consecutive in GS competition dating back to the Road America race last August and the fifth straight for the McLaren 570S GT4. Motorsports In Action driver Jesse Lazare qualified his McLaren on pole at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round last year which the McLaren factory driver missed due to China GT commitments.

***Both McLaren teams hope to have the fully updated 570S GT4 by the time by the third round of the season at Mid-Ohio in May. They currently are utilizing a partially upgraded parts package while the full update awaits official homologation from the SRO.

***The No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4 suffered significant damage in a crash in Practice 2. Charlie Luck was checked and released from the track medical center following the accident. The car was taken to a local body shop and was being outfitted with replacement parts off of the team’s spare car as of 7 p.m. Thursday, with the team anticipating having the car ready to take the start at 12:15 p.m. on Friday.

***The Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Pilot Challenge entry driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen, James Cox, and Dylan Murry is sporting an identical historic Wynn’s livery to its GT3 big brother in the WeatherTech Championship.

***Turner Motorsport’s Pilot Challenge entry for Robby Foley and the father-daughter pairing of Bruce and Sydney McKee is a one-off for now, but the team hopes to have the car on the grid for the full season. Future outings for the McKees, who make their series debut this weekend, are one possibility.

***BimmerWorld Racing’s Kaz Grala returns to the site of one of his career highlights this weekend. The Boston native became the youngest-ever NASCAR winner at Daytona in 2017 when he won the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at the track at the age of 18 years, 1 month and 26 days. Grala joins Aurora Straus this weekend behind the wheel of the team’s BMW M4 GT4.

***A total of 24 of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports have already been sold to teams in North America, according to Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Daniel Armbruster. Eight of them are taking part in today’s four-hour race.

***PF Racing’s Jade Buford said he believes his team’s transition from Pirelli tires, which they raced on in Pirelli GT4 America last year, to Michelins will be easier than that of the other teams which are shifting from Continental rubber. “A lot of other teams are having to adjust to different size tires with these cars, where the Pirelli and Michelin actually sync up a lot more,” he told Sportscar365.

***The Missouri-based team confirmed a full season entry on Thursday for Buford and JR Pesek in its Ford Mustang GT4. A second entry is understood to be a possibility later in the season.

***SRO Motorsports America TC America series manager Jim Jordan is serving as a the race strategist for the No. 99 Stoner Car Care Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4. It is not a new role for Jordan, who previously served in a similar capacity for several teams including Dempsey Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

***The latest Balance of Performance, released last week, has the Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR cars running a 2.5 percent power reduction on the engine mapping as compared to the initial BoP issued for the race.

***Atlanta Speedwerks driver Brian Henderson is very familiar with team, having competed together in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup full time in 2018, and a partial season in 2017. Henderson also ran NASCAR Xfinity races in 2017 and 2018 on road courses at Watkins Glen and Road America.

***Henderson, however, is making his Pilot Challenge debut, have qualified third in class in the Honda Civic Type R.

***The No. 52 LA Honda World Honda Civic did not initially appear to have set a time in Practice 2, but it was later revealed to have been an issue with the transponder.

***In an interview with IMSA Radio, TMR Engineering and Consulting Inc. driver Alexandre Papadopulos said the team’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCRs were occasionally going into limp mode during the practice sessions. The issue was resolved just before qualifying, and his co-driver Alex Popow secured a starting position on the outside of the second row.

***Watch the BMW Endurance Challenge at 12:05 p.m. ET, live on IMSA.tv, featuring commentary from the IMSA Radio team led by John Hindhaugh, Jeremey Shaw and Shea Adam. 

***A two-hour tape-delayed coverage of the race will air 1 p.m. ET on Feb. 6 on NBCSN.

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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