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Sebring CTSC Weekend Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Weekend Notebook from Sebring…

Photo: IMSA

***Qualifying saw GS pole-sitter Spencer Pumpelly come within 0.001 seconds of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class track record of 2:11.610, which was set in qualifying last year by Jade Buford in the KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4. It was the second consecutive pole position for Pumpelly, who also put the RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR on pole at Daytona in January.

***The Bodymotion Racing crew put in a long night making repairs to the No. 5 Porsche GT4 of Joe Robillard and Stevan McAleer after a crash during the promoter’s test on Wednesday. Robillard qualified the repaired car 24th in class for Friday’s race.

***Multimatic Motorsports driver Scott Maxwell is expected to complete the balance of the Continental Tire Challenge season in the No. 15 Mustang GT4 with a revolving list of co-drivers drafted from Ford’s NASCAR driver development ranks. The exact schedule for Maxwell’s co-drivers has not been finalized, but Chase Briscoe, who is here this weekend, and Ty Majeski are expected to play a prominent role.

***It’s understood that Maxwell is likely to make his Pirelli World Challenge debut in a PF Racing Mustang in the first GTS SprintX round of the season next week at Circuit of The Americas, paired with the team’s full-time PWC driver Jade Buford.

***Briscoe said the tricky Sebring circuit has proven to be a much bigger challenge to get up to speed than his Continental Tire Challenge debut at Daytona in January. Briscoe, who made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut last month, said the Sebring surface is even rougher than what he saw at one of NASCAR’s bumpiest tracks in Atlanta in February. The Indiana native indicated he enjoys racing on rough tracks because it brings him back to his roots racing on dirt.

***After a total of eight Continental Tire Challenge class races at Sebring – four GS and four ST – only Stevenson Motorsports, in 2014 and 2015 with drivers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, has recorded multiple victories at the track.

***Six drivers entered in Friday’s two-hour race will be going for their second Continental Tire Challenge victory at Sebring: Pumpelly, Maxwell, Owen Trinkler, Nick Galante, Trent Hindman, and Greg Liefooghe.

***Canadian Jayson Clunie was named to drive alongside Toby Grahovec in Classic BMW No. 26 BMW M4 GT4. It marks Clunie’s first Continental Tire Challenge race since running three races for Compass Racing in an ST-class Audi S3 in 2016. He most recently has driven in USF2000, competing in 11 races over the last two years including two starts at St. Pete last weekend.

***The No. 3 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 chassis that will be utilized by Craig Lyons and Kris Wilson is the same chassis that DXDT Racing campaigned with David Askew and Aaron Povoledo at Daytona, having been sold to the Texas-based team following Lyons’ weekend-ending accident in January.

***Mercedes GT4 cars have been in demand recently, with Lone Star Racing’s un-raced chassis now in the hands of Murillo Racing, as its third chassis to be used for its impending PWC SprintX effort set to debut next weekend at COTA.

***After years of building their own race cars, Ken Murillo said his team has embraced the move to turn-key GT4 and TCR machinery. “I think it’s the direction that we’re going,” he told Sportscar365. “For us in motorsports, the option is to embrace it and we have. The [GT4] Mercedes and the [TCR] Audi come very well delivered, super support, it’s just been a positive experience so far.”

***RS1’s No. 18 Porsche GT4 will not run this weekend after appearing on the entry list with no drivers nominated. Team owner Justin Bellinzoni said that as a full season entrant it was required for the car to be on site, but said the team was unable to put a program together in time to put the car on the grid.

***While the car has yet to race this season, Bellinzoni said that several parties have expressed interest for future races.

***Newly minted McLaren factory driver Paul Holton and co-driver Matt Plumb will start fifth overall in the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 despite sitting out the opening practice session of the day. The Karl Thomson-led operation was hit with electrical gremlins prior to Practice 1 but had the issues remedied in time to hit the track for the second session.

***The team’s No. 74 Audi RS3 LMS TCR of Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer was also hit with electronics issues on Thursday which limited its running. The chassis, which Holton drove to the PWC TC championship last year, underwent an engine change following Daytona.

***Friday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 is scheduled for a 2:45 p.m. ET start. The race will be streamed live on or the IMSA mobile app, with audio commentary provided by IMSA Radio.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is the lead announcer for SRO America's TV coverage as well as a pit reporter for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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