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Daytona Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Daytona International Speedway…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Change Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 returned to the track following a massive rebuild of the car after Spencer Pumpelly’s accident on Thursday. The team, along with the Gottfried Grasser-led GRT support crew worked until 4:30 a.m. on Friday making repairs to the chassis.

***There’s however one wrinkle. Pumpelly and Justin Marks will be the only authorized drivers to drive at night, due to Rolex 24 rookies Corey Lewis and 17-year-old Kaz Grala not being able to get their night-time practice laps completed. Marks was also initially not authorized but received dispensation from IMSA.

***The overall pole-sitting SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan lost an engine in final practice, but per IMSA rules, will be allowed to still start from the pole position. Teams are allowed to change engines post-qualifying in any race longer than six hours in length. Mikhail Aleshin will lead the field to the green tomorrow in the Russian prototype, which is making its U.S. debut.

***The provisional grid, which realigns the qualifying results into P-PC-GTLM-GTD order, can be found Here. The only other change comes with the pair of Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3s, which both were found to have had boost violations in qualifying. The No. 96 car loses its time and the No. 97 lost its best lap.

***LMP2 constructors and prospective DPi manufacturers met on Friday with IMSA, in an effort to work towards the finalization of the technical regulations for 2017. All four chassis constructors: Dallara, Riley-Multimatic, Onroak Automotive and ORECA have representatives on site here this weekend.

***WeatherTech Championship Senior Series Manager Geoff Carter told Sportscar365 that the overall performance of the GTLM class was lowered slightly from the Roar, which put the GTE platform back inside its performance window outlined by the FIA. Carter said the GTD class, featuring FIA GT3-spec cars, is currently “slightly under mid-range” on the performance window.

***Ford Performance boss Dave Pericak hasn’t completely ruled out customer Ford GTs in the future, but not not for the next two years during the factory program. “We’ll see what happens after that and see what the demand is,” he told Sportscar365. “You can’t stop somebody from buying one and racing it.”

***A total of six Ford GTs will be built, including two that are currently in build at Multimatic in the UK for the FIA World Endurance Championship. One spare car will be utilized for both the IMSA and WEC teams.

***Pericak, meanwhile, is optimistic of gaining all four entry requests to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “There’s no guarantees; we’ll find out next week,” he said. “But we have had some discussions leading up to this. We believe that there’s a really good chance we’ll have all four cars there.”

***Should Ford get all four entries, all four of its full-season driver pairings from IMSA and WEC will remain intact, with an additional driver to be added to each car. Sebastien Bourdais is currently the only announced Ford GT driver without a full-season program in either series, meaning the Frenchman and three others would be the endurance drivers.

***Ford, Chip Ganassi Racing and Multimatic have a massive presence at Daytona, with nearly 150 people on the ground between the three organizations to run the four cars (two Ford GTs, two Riley-Ford DPs). Ganassi has 94 crew members alone.

***Following yesterday’s story, Audi has confirmed the reassignment of Chris Reinke, who replaces Romolo Liebchen as Head of Audi Sport customer racing, effective March 1. A successor to Reinke as Head of Audi LMP1 will be announced at a later date.

***Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden is among the interested onlookers here this weekend. While the Anglo-Swiss squad has confirmed a full-season return to the WEC with its two Rebellion R-One AERs, Hayden told Sportscar365 he’s at Daytona on a recon mission for a possible IMSA effort next year.

***Former Tequila Patron ESM director of operations Robin Hill has joined F Performance Racing as its new team manager. Hill told Sportscar365 they expect to begin testing the Lexus RC F GT3 in April, with a GTD race debut possible in May with drivers Scott Pruett and Sage Karam.

***Franz Konrad confirmed to Sportscar365 plans of again entering two Lamborghini Huracan GT3s in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The German squad, which qualified in the front row of GTD, had also planned to take part in the SRO-run Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Circuit of The Americas, which has been canceled.

***The competition debut of the Ford GT will see an expected large turnout of Ford supporters, with at least 29 previous-generation Ford GT road cars set to be on hand at the manufacturer’s corral in the infield. Production of the 2017 Ford GT begins in October, limited to 250 units per year.

***Over the last five years, the P, PC and GTD classes have raced 529,828 miles during the Rolex 24, comparable to more than two round-trip journeys to the moon and back. The winner in last year’s race completed 2,634 miles, roughly 1/5th of the total distance driven on the road yearly by a U.S. citizen.

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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