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Daytona Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook following first on-track action at Roar Before Rolex 24…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

***Thirty eight of the 40 cars entered turned laps in the opening day of the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with the No. 51 PR1/Mathasien Oreca 07 Gibson unlikely to take part in the test or the race itself due to driver-related funding issues.

***The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 remained in the garage all day, with the factory British squad not providing an answer as why it did not run. All drivers except Paul Dalla Lana were present at the track on Friday.

***Mazda scored a 1-2 across Friday’s two test sessions as drivers from the Japanese manufacturer locked out the four best individual times. Olivier Pla set the overall pace in Mazda’s No. 77 car from Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 55, while Bomarito’s co-drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Harry Tincknell were third and fourth-fastest.

***NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch turned in a total of 21 laps on his first outing in AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Lexus RC F GT3. Busch set the 39th fastest time in class on Friday.

***IMSA released an official entry list for the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Friday morning, confirming several driver additions reported by Sportscar365 on Thursday.

***Rahel Frey is set to replace Bia Figueiredo in GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for the Michelin Endurance Cup races, according to team owner Mark Ruggieri, who told Sportscar365 that Figueiredo has “scheduling conflicts” with Stock Car Brasil.

***Frey, who is an Audi factory driver, appeared on the entry list last week in place of Figueiredo, who was initially announced as part of the program last month.

***With PR1/Mathiasen likely to run only a single LMP2 car in the race, the Rolex 24 looks set to feature a record-low entry of 39 cars, down from the 47 cars that took part last year.

***The reduced entry, compared to last year, means all cars will be set up inside the NASCAR garages, which had been one of the incentives for the qualifying sessions this weekend to determine pit lane and garage assignments.

***Qualifying for GTD and LMP2 entries are set for Saturday afternoon, with GTLM and DPi scheduled for Sunday.

***John Doonan, in his first WeatherTech Championship event as IMSA President, said it felt different not having a “specific horse” in the race when testing began this morning. “I sat back in my office for the first time all weekend and watched the first session quietly because I didn’t want to show any emotion for anybody on pit road in particular,” the former Mazda Motorsports director said.

***Doonan, who met with members of the media on Friday provided an interesting analogy in comparing his previous and new job. “I explained to some folks at church and folks that don’t necessarily understand sports car racing that I used to be responsible for the elephants in the circus. Now I’m responsible for the whole circus.”

***All but four of Grasser Racing Team’s 28 mechanics will be staying over in the U.S. between the Roar and Rolex 24 according to team boss Gottfried Grasser, who said many will be taking trips to various parts of the country on vacation.

***The Austrian Lamborghini squad will have a total of 48 crew for the Rolex 24, including drivers, for its expansive three-car operation.

***Despite now being operated by GRT, several relics of Magnus Racing have remained, including its transporter, pit equipment and drivers who are still contracted to the John Potter-owned organization.

***Longtime PR representative Sean Heckman is no longer handling Magnus’ PR, marking an end of an era that had seen some of the most creative and unfiltered campaigns in the IMSA paddock.

***It has also resulted in the end of the annual Magnus Racing Rolex 24 webcast, which had been a favorite among fans and competitors.

***It will be a busy two months for Rick Ware Racing, which is also competing in the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series season with two Ligier JS P2 Nissans, alongside with the start of its NASCAR Cup Series program. Two crew members, as well as driver Cody Ware, will travel straight to Adelaide for next weekend’s Asian round at The Bend.

***Eurointernational, which is largely running RWR’s Asian LMS program, will also have a presence at the Rolex 24, with team owner Antonio Ferrari set to call strategy on the team’s Riley Mk. 30 Gibson LMP2 car.

***While new to prototype racing, RWR has two previous starts in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, coming in 2011 and 2012 with a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and a privately-built Ford Mustang, respectively.

***Ware said there’s already been crossover in sponsorship between its sports car and NASCAR programs, with Whelen set to serve an associate sponsor on its car for next month’s Daytona 500.

***The relationship with Whelen came through Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Johnathan Hoggard, who has been placed with the team for the Rolex 24. “Obviously it’s an honor to have Sonny Whelen involved with us on the IMSA side and Whelen is going to also be an associate sponsor on our Daytona 500 car,” Ware told Sportscar365.

***Sebastian Priaulx is turning laps in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 this weekend alongside Austin Cindric. The duo claimed victory in last year’s season-ending round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

***While on the entry list as a third Multimatic Motorsports entry, the No. 19 Mustang GT4 of Scott Maxwell and Marco Signoretti is being run by PF Racing, which also has a car of its own for James Pesek.

***The only lineup out of the Ford camp that’s officially confirmed for the season-opener is the No. 22 Multimatic entry for Chase Briscoe and Hailie Deegan, who will take part in her first race as a Ford Performance development driver.

***Camp Boggy Creek, one of two official IMSA charities, will host a “Roar for the Kids” event at the Daytona 500 Clubhouse on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., offering an opportunity for campers to meet with drivers and others from the IMSA paddock and participate in camping-related activities.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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