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COTA TUSC Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday TUSC notebook from Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Ozz Negri topped the time charts in opening TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice, pedaling his Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda to a quick lap of 2:00.205. Renger van der Zande (PC), Earl Bamber (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (GTD) led the other classes.

***The new Ligier JS P3 could make an appearance on U.S. soil later this year, in a bid to push for the introduction of LMP3 in the top-level IMSA competition. Onroak Automotive’s Philippe Dumas told Sportscar365 that he’s meeting with IMSA President Scott Atherton this weekend to discuss the platform’s future in North America.

***Dumas said they could equip the JS P3 with a more powerful engine and carbon brakes to match the current performance levels in Prototype Challenge. It’s understood the French constructor had been in discussions with Starworks Motorsport to potentially run a car unclassified in next month’s Petit Le Mans, although those plans appear to have not materialized.

***A total of 20 Ligier JS P3s have already been pre-sold, according to Dumas. The car is set to make its competition debut in next month’s European Le Mans Series season finale at Estoril with Graff Racing, and potentially a second entry from fellow French squad Extreme Limite.

***Action Express Racing continues to explore all four 2017 chassis options, per team manager Gary Nelson. Nelson and technical director Iain Watt explored the KCMG garage on Wednesday (pictured above), as KCMG fields an Oreca 05 Nissan in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Nelson hopes to have a decision made by the end of the year. Action Express confirmed two Corvette DPs to continue in 2016 at Road America.

***Marco Seefried will miss Petit Le Mans due to a conflict with the Blancpain Sprint Series event at Zandvoort. Seefried remains in championship contention in his Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. A replacement for him at Magnus Racing for the 10-hour TUDOR Championship season finale is expected to be announced shortly.

***IMSA released a competition memo on Wednesday outlining the process and deadlines for driver ratings in 2016. Current drivers can request a review of their rating by September 30, and any re-categorization will be published on or before October 30. Protests for that have to be submitted by November 15 and a final list will be published on December 1.

***Prototype teams will utilize Continental “Gold” tires at Petit Le Mans, following a switch from the originally planned “Blacks” for Road Atlanta, as well as last month’s Road America round. The same tire construction is also used at Daytona and Watkins Glen. GM teams took part in a multi-day test at Road Atlanta late last month with the tires.

***Starworks Motorsport will swap its driver lineup slightly compared to the original entry list. Sean Rayhall returns to the TUDOR Championship, co-driving with Alex Popow in the team’s No. 88 Oreca FLM09, while Mike Hedlund moves from the No. 88 car into the No. 8 car alongside Renger van der Zande.

***Former Risi Competizione chief mechanic and technician Peter Kaczmar died the Sunday of the most recent TUDOR United SportsCar Championship round at Virginia International Raceway. “He was expert at preparing cars ranging from sports prototypes to GTs and was noted for the very intense and meticulous way that he worked. His contributions to our racing history are substantial,” said team principal Giuseppe Risi.

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report

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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