***ACO President Pierre Fillon said they don’t currently have any current plans to change the Hypercar class name to GTP to mirror IMSA’s naming of its top category that will feature Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) and Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) machinery beginning in 2023, although he admitted they have to go “step by step.”
“The GTP name was used in Le Mans in the past,” Fillon said. “I think it’s a great idea to name the top category in WeatherTech with the name of GTP. Of course in Le Mans and WEC, the name is Hypercar for the moment. Today we don’t plan to change this name. We will see what will be the future.”
***A decision on Scott Dixon’s participation at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be determined next week according to Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull. “I don’t have an answer until this weekend is over,” he told Sportscar365.
***It’s understood that Dixon is likely to focus on his NTT IndyCar Series commitments at Texas Motor Speedway during the clashing weekend, with a final call on Jimmie Johnson’s participation to-be-determined.
***Hull said it’s “safe to say” that Kevin Magnussen will be with CGR in one of its Cadillac DPi-V.Rs for Sebring, with Hull confirming Dixon for Motul Petit Le Mans, which does not clash with IndyCar.
***The No. 01 CGR Cadillac DPi is being called the “champions” car because of the drivers’ combined 11 IndyCar Series titles and one IMSA championship. Dixon holds six IndyCar titles, with Sebastien Bourdais at four and Alex Palou winning the championship last year. They’re joined by 2016 IMSA LMPC champion Renger van der Zande.
***Hardpoint has bolstered its GTD crew with engineers from Manthey Racing, who will be on board for the full season.
***The Rob Ferriol-owned operation has eyes on making some extra-curricular GT3 appearances this year. “There’s a few others, Bathurst is one,” Ferriol told Sportscar365. “I wouldn’t mind doing the Indy 8 Hour. We supported Audi the year before last and had the Cups there last year. I wouldn’t mind doing some of the one-off races, but we’re focused on the IMSA schedule and growing Hardpoint.”
***Ferriol added that Hardpoint has plenty of testing on its plate between Daytona and Sebring. The latter will see the team race the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport for the first time. “We’ll test at Sebring with the [GT3] R in a couple of weeks. In parallel we’ll start getting the GT4 RS ready and we’ll test that as well. It’s based at VIR so we can do rollouts and tests locally.”
***Lamborghini is working “daily” on its proposed LMDh program according to its head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna, who told Sportscar365 that the Italian manufacturer has “different options” on the technical side. “It’s clear that we have to take a decision very soon and it’s what we are looking for.”
***Lamborghini is taking its time with the promotion of GT3 Junior drivers to factory status according to Sanna. No new signings were included in the works roster announced earlier this week.
***Late last year it appeared that Frederik Schandorff was on course to be signed to the factory squad. “Frederik, like [Michele] Beretta and the other GT3 Juniors are always in our radar,” Sanna explained. “They are always predicted to become factory drivers. But Junior drivers need time to grow and gain experience, especially in a certain level of championship.”
***The newly announced Ford Mustang GT3 is being targeted for an on-track debut in 2023 with a potential end-of-year race outing for Balance of Performance purposes “potentially on how everything goes” according to Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook.
***Rushbrook wouldn’t confirm the location of where the Multimatic-built GT3 car is being developed, answering “yes” to both Canada and the UK, Multimatic’s two biggest motorsports bases. It’s known the 5.0-liter Coyote-based Ford V8 engine will be developed at M-Sport in Great Britain.
***While not announcing drivers beyond the already confirmed Joey Hand, Rushbrook said they would “absolutely” look at the current pool of Multimatic-contracted pilots, including former Ford GT driver Dirk Mueller and Porsche Carrera Cup North America champion Seb Priaulx, for the Mustang GT3 program.
“Obviously we’ve got great history with Joey and Dirk together winning at Le Mans,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365. “Andy [Priaulx] was a huge part of our program and now seeing Seb develop and follow in those same footsteps… I think we’ve got a good pool to select from.”
***Michelin is showcasing its ‘Regen Lab’ this weekend, which explores renewable materials the tire manufacturer is incorporating into its future line of race tires. Plastic water bottles, yoghurt cups, wood chips and tire rubber are all recycled into its concept tire that features 46 percent bio-sourced and recycled materials for the ACO’s new hydrogen class that will debut in 2025.
***Michelin is targeting to produce 100 percent sustainable tires by 2050 and be 40 percent sustainable by 2030, with the help of its motorsports development.
***Among notables spotted in the paddock on Friday included Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner and two-time IMSA GTD champion Christina Nielsen, who is searching for a ride this year as a recently reclassified Bronze-rated driver. Nielsen’s last WeatherTech Championship start came in last year’s Rolex 24 with Hardpoint.
***Daytona International Speedway has a new tri-oval grass design for its major early-season sports car and NASCAR events. The ‘Great American Race’ design was chosen in an online poll.
***CrowdStrike has been named an official partner of IMSA, in an agreement that includes opportunities for the cybersecurity company to host CxO Summits for C-level executives at Michelin Endurance Cup race venues, including this week. The partnership will also include on-track signage at races and IMSA VIP experiences at other IMSA races throughout the season.
***In addition, CrowdStrike will sponsor the Endurance, Teamwork and Speed Award at the Endurance Cup races, recognizing a team in each class demonstrating the unique qualities needed to be successful in long-distance races.
***Coverage of the 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on network NBC. Click Here for full U.S. TV details. IMSA Radio will anchor IMSA.tv’s coverage led by the season-long crew of John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam, who are joined this weekend by Jonny Palmer, Bruce Martin, Peter Mackay, Andrew Marriott and Joe Bradley.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report