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Daytona Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24 pre-season test…

Photo: Porsche

***All 61 entered cars turned laps in the opening day of the Roar Before the Rolex 24, which saw the GTD class No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Jan Heylen end up quicker than the GTD Pro competitors. Heylen’s 1:46.483 lap time from the morning session was 0.033 seconds faster than Mirko Bortolotti, who paced the second session in his GTD Pro class No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

***The No. 20 High Class Racing Oreca 07 Gibson completed the most laps (79) combined between Friday’s two sessions for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors. 

***IMSA on Friday morning issued revised aerodynamic configurations for DPi cars, lowering the rear wing assembly and rear wing flap angles for both the Acura ARX-05 and Cadillac DPi-V.R. The change was made to reflect “achievable and equitable” rear aerodynamic configurations according to the technical bulletin.

***The left-side curbs that were installed at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane are not in place for the Roar and Rolex 24. It’s understood that the first of the two long curbs was removed midway through a private test last month, while the second was taken away after the test.

***Meyer Shank Racing’s Oliver Jarvis described the current Bus Stop as “quite normal” and also praised IMSA’s action to remove the curbs. “You could still run a similar amount of speed, but the problem was that if you made a slight error there was a real risk that you would launch into the air, break your back and destroy the car,” Jarvis told Sportscar365.

***Former WIN Autosport team manager Michael Harvey has taken up a new position at Chip Ganassi Racing as its competition director, bolstering the team’s senior level management that still includes Mike Hull (managing director), Steve Eriksen (team manager) and Mike O’Gara (director of operations). 

***The No. 11 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson is the same chassis and largely the same crew from last year’s WIN Autosport effort according to team principal Bobby Oergel, who has fulfilled his long desire of expanding into a two-car LMP2 operation.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to integrate that, so it’s not all brand-new to [Steven Thomas],” Oergel told Sportscar365. “In the end it’s a good group of guys and it’s a matter of how you fit it in. We’re finding our legs.”

***Oergel said they’ve determined the driver lineup for the No. 52 car in the LMP2 sprint races, which is expected to be announced following Daytona. Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker will continue in the car for the three remaining IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races following the Rolex 24. 

***Longtime team owner/manager Mike Johnson has been drafted into the PR1/Mathiasen squad to help oversee strategy for the event.

***DragonSpeed will be seeking its third Rolex 24 class win in the last four years with its Daytona-only lineup featuring NTT IndyCar Series drivers Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Devin DeFrancesco joining Bronze-rated Eric Lux in the brightly-colored Oreca.

***The team was denied acquiring a Cadillac DPi due to lack of available engine leases. Team principal Elton Julian said: “I can’t help but think it’s too bad we couldn’t secure a DPi for this race, as this lineup clearly deserves one, Most of our LMP2 rivals are capable of delivering a fast, efficient, and reliable run.”

***Julian said he’s impressed with the “turnaround” of the class, which features ten entries for the Rolex 24. Post-Daytona, DragonSpeed’s effort will transform into a car for Juan Pablo Montoya and Henrik Hedman, with Sebastian Montoya joining the duo at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

***Turner Motorsport has two identical BMW M4 GT3s on-site, with its second chassis, in full race livery, on its truck as a spare. The team’s race car, chassis 22005, has been named “Taco Machine” with each new BMW featuring a name engraved into the door sill.

***A total of 32 crew are part of Proton Competition’s three-car WeatherTech GTD Pro effort, not counting drivers and manufacturer support staff.

***Cetilar Racing conducted two European tests with its Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to prepare for its switch to IMSA after a season in the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am category. The AF Corse-run squad went to Vallelunga and Barcelona to get acquainted with the commercial Michelin S9M tire that is used in the GTD class. Its IMSA Ferrari is a brand-new car owned by AF Corse.

“We had to test the differences, mainly the huge differences with regards to the tires,” team owner/driver Roberto Lacorte told Sportscar365. “We had to sort the setup and change our driving styles.”

***Antonio Fuoco, who is part of Cetilar’s Michelin Endurance Cup squad, is now in line for double-duty at Sebring following his confirmation as a member of Ferrari’s factory GTE-Pro lineup in the WEC. Cetilar is set to continue sponsoring the Ferrari GTE-Pro cars.

***Rinus Veekay has a unique helmet design for Daytona that includes grocery items related to the JUMBO supermarket chain owned by his Racing Team Nederland co-driver Frits van Eerd. A shopping cart, a doughnut and some bananas are among the items that can be found on Veekay’s new lid.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercar drivers Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi are set to pull double-duty at Sebring, having received permission from the Japanese manufacturer to be part of Action Express Racing’s lineup in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Conway has been confirmed in the No. 31 Cadillac with Kobayashi in the No. 48 car.

***It comes amid a busy weekend for the two-car team that will see Jimmie Johnson attempt both the Twelve Hours of Sebring and NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway and Pipo Derani also expected to join Conway and Kobayashi in pulling double duty between the IMSA enduro and the 1,000-mile FIA World Endurance Championship race, driving for Glickenhaus.

***Following Porsche’s rollout of its LMDh car last week, Sportscar365 believes that Acura is likely to be the next LMDh manufacturer in line to break cover, with an initial shakedown possibly in the cards for March or April, followed by Cadillac, which is believed to be slated for a debut in May. The BMW M LMDh, meanwhile, is on track for a rollout in June or July.

***SealMaster has joined Vasser Sullivan’s two-car Lexus RC F GT3 program as the primary sponsor for both cars. It marks the team’s fifth season with the manufacturer of pavement sealer and distributor of pavement maintenance and sport surfacing products and equipment, having first joined as a team partner in its NTT IndyCar Series program.

***Sportscar365 understands that Hardpoint is set to expand into Michelin Pilot Challenge competition with a new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport beginning with the second round of the season at Sebring International Raceway.

***Wright Motorsports has been appointed the new operators of VOLT Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson, having previously been run by Archangel Motorsports.

***While having elected not to continue in the European Le Mans Series or Ferrari Challenge North America, Cooper MacNeil told Sportscar365 that he intends to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Proton-prepared Porsche 911 RSR-19.

***MacNeil explained that the class the car will run in and his co-drivers remain “to be determined.” WeatherTech Racing has run in the GTE-Pro class for the last two years.

***The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is offering discounted admission to Rolex 24 ticket holders and also IMSA hard-card and single-event credentialed personnel. Admission to the Hall, located outside of the NASCAR Turn 4 tunnel, is $7 for eligible persons and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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