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CTMP Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

***The field for Sunday’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix has been reduced to 31 cars, following the late withdrawal of the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and crash in opening practice for the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson of Kyle Masson.

***Tequila Patron ESM, meanwhile, is down to a single-car operation this weekend following a shortage of engines for its Nissan Onroak DPis, which had three engine failures last weekend at Watkins Glen. Ryan Dalziel has joined Pipo Derani in the No. 22 Nissan DPi, with Johannes van Overbeek and team owner Scott Sharp sitting out this race.

***It has resulted in a season-low 12 Prototype entries for Sunday’s two-hour and 40-minute race, with Spirit of Daytona electing to not make the trip North of the Border and additional races beyond the already confirmed Motul Petit Le Mans unclear for the Troy Flis-led squad.

***A heavy crash by Helio Castroneves in Practice 2 will result in a long night for Acura Team Penske, which is working to repair the No. 7 Acura ARX-05 following the Brazilian’s accident at Moss Corner. Castroneves, who is one of several IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers making their debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, lost control of the DPi contender prior to making contact with the barriers.

***Castroneves was treated and released from the infield medical center. “Bad day for Brazil,” Castroneves said, in reference to his country losing to Belgium in the World Cup quaterfinals. “I had spun before a little bit in Turn 5… It was a big one. I’m very happy that everything’s safe. Hopefully, it didn’t damage the chassis. It’s a shame to put the boys in this situation, but I’m counting on my man Ricky [Taylor] to put a big lap in [tomorrow in qualifying] and see what happens.”

***Friday’s practice sessions featured a staggered class format for the first time, with Prototype and GT Le Mans teams on track for a full hour, and GT Daytona class cars joining at the 15-minute mark. Silver and Bronze-rated drivers in GTD, meanwhile, were permitted 15 minutes of additional practice following the conclusion of the P/GTLM session.

***The traditional format, which sees all classes simultaneously in action, will return for Practice 3 on Saturday morning.

***The power increases given to the majority of DPi cars this weekend are understood to be marginal. An industry source told Sportscar365 that the Cadillac DPi-V.R, which was given a 0.3mm increase in its air restrictor, has gained roughly 9 horsepower since Watkins Glen.

***IMSA confirmed that it will hold its annual “State of the Series” address at Road America, with the event scheduled for Fri. Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. local time. The 2018 WeatherTech Championship schedule, as well as potential changes to the Prototype and GT Daytona classes, are expected to be revealed as part of the presentation.

***A number of teams stayed on at Watkins Glen on Monday for the second of Michelin’s “On Track Opportunities” to sample the French tire manufacturer’s offerings, which will become the Official Tire of IMSA in 2019 and spec tire for the Prototype and GT Daytona classes.

***Additional details on the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring, which will serve as the first race under Michelin’s new partnership, will be released in the coming weeks. The four-hour endurance race, scheduled for Nov. 11, is expected to be open for LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR machinery and likely feature Pro-Am driver enforcement in all classes.

***The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R returns to action this weekend, with Michael Schein and Wolf Henzler at the wheel. The team’s replacement for Henzler, who is due to miss the Road America, Virginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca rounds due to coaching commitments in Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, has yet to be announced. 

***Alessandro Balzan is unlikely to return to the wheel of the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 this summer, as the Italian continues his recovery following a medical procedure in late May. Jeff Segal, who has rejoined Cooper MacNeil this weekend, is expected to split co-driver duties with Gunnar Jeannette.

***Despite SunEnergy1’s abrupt exit, Riley Motorsports is aiming to remain a two-car GTD team, according to Bill Riley, who told Sportscar365 that he’s evaluating options to put one of Ben Keating’s other Mercedes GT3s into action for the remainder of the season.

***Filming of the upcoming motion picture “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is occurring this weekend. Several scenes, including pit stop sequences featuring Turner Motorsport’s BMW M4 GT4 and a rain scene, simulated by sprinklers, were shot on Thursday, under the direction of producer Patrick Dempsey.

***A number of IMSA personnel and team members were utilized as extras in the scenes. The movie, starring Milo Ventimiglia, is due to be released next year.

***Team Penske has its busiest weekend of the year, with all of its teams in action across six races between the five series. The DJR Team Penske Virgin Australia Supercars program has a pair of races in Townsville, Australia, with both the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series and Xfinity Series at Daytona and the Verizon IndyCar Series in Iowa. 

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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