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WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Monday Notebook

John Dagys’ Monday notebook from IMSA testing…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***The Ligier JS P217 Gibson, run by PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports this week, will be arriving late tonight after being held up in customs in North Carolina. It was the only car on the 14-car entry list that was not present Monday at Daytona.

***PR1/Mathiasen will have support from five Onroak Automotive mechanics and engineers at this week’s test. The French constructor also has a support truck at the track for the first time, thanks to its recent acquisition of Crawford Composites’ racing division.

***The JS P217 test chassis is coming off an extensive development program in Europe, having racked up 11,000 kms, including a recent multi-day test at Estoril. PR1/Mathasen’s race chassis is expected to be delivered next month, ahead of the two Tequila Patron ESM Ligier-Nissans, slated for mid-December deliveries.

***Onroak’s Ethan Bregman told Sportscar365 there’s still a chance to see an additional one or two Gibson-engined JS P217s on the grid at Daytona, as they continue to have discussions with prospective customers for the 2017 season.

***A single Lexus RC F GT3 is present with all four of its full-season drivers: Scott Pruett, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth and Robert Alon, set to share driving duties. The Paul Gentilozzi-led team is supported by a heavy presence of TRD and Lexus staff, some from Japan, for the car’s first public outing in North America.

***SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 will get its first competitive laps on Tuesday, with Boris Said, Tristan Vautier and team owner Kenny Habul. All three AMG GT3s completed a shakedown at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. last month, with the Riley and WeatherTech entries completing a two-day private test at Daytona last week.

***Vautier told Sportscar365 that their full-season lineup has not yet been announced, but he, Said and Habul are confirmed for the Rolex 24. All three drove together in last year’s race, in a Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS. The Frenchman is the only driver with previous AMG GT3 experience, having driven in this year’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup with AKKA-ASP.

***It’s understood at least one additional Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be on the grid for the full-season, campaigned by an existing IMSA team. It would be in addition to HTP Motorsport, which is still evaluating a potential Daytona and Sebring effort, possibly with Paul Dalla-Lana.

***Bill Riley told Sportscar365 that the first Gibson-engined Riley Mk. 30 will run for the first time next week. It is expected to be the Visit Florida Racing chassis, which will be delivered to the team next month.

***Ben Keating, who will be part of the Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 program, has no plans to run his Riley-Gibson outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. “There was some talk about trying to do a Daytona program with it,” Keating told Sportscar365. “We decided we would not try to divide our efforts between two Riley cars and focus 100 percent on the AMG GT3 program.”

***Keating’s Riley-Gibson Le Mans program is subject to an entry from the ACO, but the car is believed to have been given one of IMSA’s two auto-invites for the race. Scuderia Corsa is expected to get the second invite, for Christina Nielsen’s GTD title, to be used as part of an expected two-car Ferrari effort for GTE-Am.

***Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron told Sportscar365 that he’s finalizing sponsorship for his planned Riley-Gibson LMP2 effort, saying that the deal is “95 percent done.” Baron said he has a list of top-level pro drivers in line for a seat, should a deal materialize.

***Baron will be testing a number of new drivers in his Oreca FLM09 PC car this week, including John Falb, James Dayson, Quinlan Lall and former Porsche factory driver Marco Holzer, who will make his prototype debut.

***Starworks is also assisting Land Motorsport with logistics and transportation for its Audi R8 LMS, a brand-new chassis that the German team will debut in the Rolex 24 for recently crowned ADAC GT Masters Champions Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies, as well as Jules Gounon and Jeffrey Schmidt.

***EbiMotors, which makes its return to Daytona for the first time since 2005, meanwhile, is receiving assistance from NGT Motorsport. The Italian squad has outlined plans to contest Daytona and Sebring with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and is one of seven Lamborghinis expected for the season-opener.

***BMW Team RLL will be testing a single BMW M6 GTLM this week, with Bill Auberlen and Kuno Wittmer handling duties on Tuesday, and John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk on Wednesday. The German manufacturer will announce its driver lineup next month, which is expected to see both Wittmer and former DTM champion Tomczyk land full-season seats.

***IMSA held a GTD team principal meeting on Monday evening in Daytona, to discuss the category’s evolution. The topic of driver ratings has been a major talking point in the class.

***Despite reports elsewhere linking the Cadillac DPi to a public debut, neither of the Action Express Racing or Wayne Taylor Racing entries are expected to take part in testing this week at Daytona. Neither of the teams’ transporters were present in the paddock on Monday.

***WeatherTech Championship competitors will have a total of 14 hours of track time over the next two days, with sessions running from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. both days.

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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