Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Rolex 24…

Photo: Ryan Myrehn

Photo: Ryan Myrehn

***DAC Motorsports is expected to start tomorrow’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with a spare Lamborghini Huracan GT3 chassis, following a heavy accident in final practice by Emmanuel Anassis. A left-rear puncture, triggered by low air pressure, sent Anassis hard into the Turn 1 wall, destroying the team’s primary car and initially ruling the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debutants out of the race.

***However, the team received permission late Friday from IMSA to revert to a spare Huracan GT3, which was on display in the Lamborghini hospitality tent in a Change Racing livery. The car, which contested last year’s race under the O’Gara Motorsport banner, is in the process of being prepared but the team faces a 8 p.m. curfew.

***A water leak halted the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE in final practice, when Toni Vilander was at the wheel. Co-driver James Calado told Sportscar365 that Vilander’s quick action prevented further damage, with the team opting to not replace the engine for tomorrow’s race. The No. 62 Ferrari will roll off from fourth on the grid as the best non-Ford GT.

***Numerous Prototype teams have continued to battle electrical issues, including the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, which lost time in final practice with shifting and throttle gremlins. Mike Guasch told Sportscar365 their car is fully trimmed out, yet still battling a top speed deficit compared to the Oreca 07 Gibsons.

***All three Mercedes-AMG GT3s, in their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debuts, also struggled for straight-line speed in qualifying, with the cars some 6 mph off the fastest GT Daytona car, the No. 61 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

***Remarkably, the Lamborghini’s top speed of 176.6 mph in qualifying was the same as the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Olivier Pla, who was the quickest GT Le Mans class car in the speeds traps in qualifying.

***IMSA VP of Competition Simon Hodgson hinted during a press conference that a fourth DPi manufacturer is in the pipeline, although would not provide additional details. It’s believed Honda is finalizing plans for a potential end-of-year debut, although HPD Team Leader Allen Miller told Sportscar365 that a decision has not yet been made.

***Hodgson said IMSA collected 66 gigabytes of car data from the Roar Before the 24 to determine this weekend’s Balance of Performance.

***CJ Wilson will make his full-time racing debut in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, with the MLB star announcing intentions to shift his career focus. Wilson suffered multiple injuries and subsequent surgeries, which put the 36-year-old on the DL for the majority of the 2016 MLB season.

***Ford Performance Global Director Dave Pericak said they currently have no plans to field additional Ford GTs in either the Twelve Hours of Sebring or Petit Le Mans, despite its four-car assault this weekend. “I’d love to have four but it’s expensive and you also have to remember the timing of Sebring… there’s a lot to consider,” he told Sportscar365.

***Sebring falls just two weeks prior to the WEC Prologue at Monza, which Pericak admitted would be a challenge logistically for the UK-based Multimatic-run arm of the team to tackle both events.

***Pericak, meanwhile, confirmed that Billy Johnson will return to the Ford WEC team as its endurance driver alongside full-time pilots Olivier Pla and Stefan Muecke but is “not ready to comment” on the third driver for the No. 67 car with Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx. Marino Franchitti is believed to still be under contract but not likely to drive.

***Gustavo Menezes confirmed to Sportscar365 that he’ll defend his LMP2 World Championship in the WEC, with a to-be-announced program. The American, who has been upgraded from Silver to Gold driver rating, is believed to have been re-signed by Signatech Alpine.

***A large contingent of ACO staff are at Daytona, including FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu, ACO President Pierre Fillon, Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil and Technical Delegate Thierry Bouvet. It’s understood there are meetings planned between IMSA and the ACO/FIA this weekend.

***Officials from Pirelli World Challenge are also in the paddock this weekend, including President/CEO Greg Gill and Director of Competition Marcus Haselgrove.

***Continental has brought more than 8,000 tires to Daytona for both the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race and Rolex 24, totaling four times more tires than a typical race weekend.

***A total of 14 transporters have been utilized to transport the tires from Indiana to Daytona, with 70 employees on-site to help process and service the tires. Continental can process more than 200 tires per hour, at peak demand.

***Be sure to download Andy Blackmore’s Spotter’s Guide for the Rolex 24, featuring all 55 starters for the season-opening round of the WeatherTech Championship. Click Here to download the guide.

***In addition to flag-to-flag Rolex 24 coverage on FOX Sports GO, and all but one hour broadcast on TV, European viewers can tune into MotorsTV for comprehensive coverage of the race. The European network will cover more than 14 hours of the race, anchored by Mark Cole, beginning at 7 p.m. UK time and running until 1  a.m. on Sunday, with coverage resuming at 12 p.m. through the end of the race.

Ryan Myrehn and James Newbold 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


More in WeatherTech Championship