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2018 IMSA Silly Season Update: GTD

A look at the confirmed and possible GT Daytona entries for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship…

Photo: Peter Burke/IMSA

In the latest Silly Season update, Sportscar365 looks at the confirmed, likely and possible GT Daytona class entries for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Scuderia Corsa (Ferrari) — The three-time and defending GT Daytona class champions will return with a revised driver lineup and new colors, with Cooper MacNeil joining Alessandro Balzan at the wheel of the now WeatherTech-sponsored Ferrari 488 GT3. Jeff Segal will complete the team’s lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. (1 car confirmed)

Riley Team AMG (Mercedes-AMG) — Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen are set to return to the Riley Motorsports-run operation for a second consecutive year with its Mercedes-AMG GT3. (1 car confirmed)

Michael Shank Racing (Acura) — Look for up to two full-season Acura NSX GT3s fielded by the Ohio-based team, which reverts to full customer status next year. Spencer Pumpelly, who was recently re-classified to Silver by the FIA, has been tipped for one of the seats, in what could be an entirely new driver lineup. An announcement is set to come next week at the PRI show. (2 cars likely)

Paul Miller Racing (Lamborghini) — While yet to officially confirm its return, it’s believed no major changes are in the works for the longtime GT Daytona entrant. Paul Miller Racing is expected to continue fielding a Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which featured Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow this year. (1 car likely)

Wayne Taylor Racing (Lamborghini) — The reigning Prototype champions are poised to expand into the GTD ranks, with up to two Lamborghinis entered either under the WTR or Prestige Performance banner. While drivers have yet to be announced, a number of experienced GTD pilots have driven for the team in Lamborghini Super Trofeo, including Trent Hindman and Katherine Legge. (1-2 cars likely)

3GT Racing (Lexus) — The Paul Gentiolozzi-led team is expected to return as a customer operation with two upgraded Lexus RC F GT3s. However, the IMSA-mandated ceasing of factory involvement will also likely affect 3GT’s driver lineup, which featured three Lexus factory drivers this year. (2 cars likely)

Park Place Motorsports — While poised to return to GTD, Park Place’s entry could feature an all-new driver lineup and car. It’s understood two-time class champion Christina Nielsen is close to a deal with the team, which could also see a rumored switch from its Porsche 911 GT3 R to a Mercedes-AMG GT3. (1 car likely)

Magnus Racing (Audi) — After a one-year stint in Pirelli World Challenge, the John Potter-owned team is likely to return to GTD competition, although final confirmation is still forthcoming. Wherever Magnus races, it will be again with Andy Lally, who was announced last month in rejoining the team for 2018. (1 car likely)

Land Motorsport (Audi) — Following a three-race campaign this year, highlighted by class victory at Petit Le Mans, the German squad is set to take on full-season effort with an Audi R8 LMS. With Connor De Phillippi departing for BMW Team RLL, brothers Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde could spearhead the lineup alongside Christopher Mies for Daytona. A second entry hasn’t been ruled out for the endurance races. (1 car confirmed)

SunEnergy1 Racing (Mercedes-AMG) — All indications are that SunEnergy1 Racing will continue next year, likely with its Mercedes-AMG GT3. Tristan Vautier was joined by team owner Kenny Habul for the majority of the races in 2017, with Dion von Moltke assisting the team in the second half of the year, which included a race outing at Motul Petit Le Mans. (1 car likely)

Alegra Motorsports (Porsche) — The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona class winners could end up being the sole full-season flag bearer for Porsche in GTD, should it formally commit to a return. The Florida-based team will be taking part in next week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, running Porsche’s new evo kit for its 911 GT3 R, with Joerg Bergmeister and Michael de Quesada listed as drivers. (1 car possible)

Turner Motorsport (BMW) — While still yet to confirm its program, the Will Turner-led squad is likely to be on the grid at Daytona with at least one BMW M6 GT3 car, as it continues to search for funded drivers for the season. (1 car possible)

Ex-Stevenson Team (Audi) — An active effort is being made by former Stevenson Motorsports team manager Mike Johnson to keep the core group of the North Carolina-based team intact to run an Audi. While Johnson says the odds for a full-season effort are currently “less than 50/50” he’s received numerous inquiries in recent weeks and is hopeful of at least being on the grid for Daytona. (1 car possible)

Change Racing — The future of Robby Benton’s race-winning GTD operation is unclear, amid conflicting reports that have linked the team to a return or shifting its focus entirely to Lamborghini Super Trofeo. (unknown)

Risi Competizione (Ferrari) — The status of a possible customer program for the Houston-based team remains unknown, after having nearly debuted one of its new Ferrari 488 GT3 cars this year. A full-season GTD effort is believed to be one of the possibilities for 2018. (unknown)

American Spirit Racing — The former open-wheel and ALMS entrant could resurface next year, with the Jon Lewis-owned operation having announced intentions of multiple programs for 2018, including a potential Audi entry. (1 car possible)

P1 Motorsports (Mercedes-AMG) — The upstart Florida-based team, which fielded entries in both IMSA Prototype Challenge powered by Mazda and Lamborghini Super Trofeo this year, will expand into the GTD ranks  with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for a Tequila Patron Endurance Cup-only campaign. (1 car confirmed)

GMG Racing (Porsche) — The California-based squad, which captured multiple PWC titles this year, is understood to be finalizing a Patron Endurance Cup-only campaign with one of its GT3-spec Porsches. Should the program materialize, look for Alec Udell to be one of the drivers. (1 car likely for NAEC)

HART (Acura) — After assisting Michael Shank Racing throughout this year, the Honda of America Racing Team is finalizing a limited-season program with a leased/borrowed Acura. It’s understood the team will likely be on the grid for the Rolex 24, with its initial target comprising of the Patron Endurance Cup rounds, plus its home race at Mid-Ohio. (1 car likely for NAEC)

Additional Entries Expected for Daytona

A number of one-off or ‘Florida 36 Hours’ efforts are expected to complete the bumper grid for Daytona, including possible entries from leading Blancpain GT Series squads Grasser Racing Team and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The AF Corse-run Spirit of Race operation could also make the trip back to Daytona.

Full-Season Entry Projection: 12-19 cars
Additional Cars for Daytona: 4-8

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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