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Daytona Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24 weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***Both the No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Evo returned to action Saturday afternoon at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 after colliding in the morning session.

***The Cadillac DPi sustained heavy front-end damage after Will Owen ran into the Ezequiel Perez Companc-driven Starworks Audi after the Argentinean checked up from the spinning No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi.

***Sebastian Saavedra has been confirmed as the fourth driver in the No. 18 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 for the Rolex 24 alongside Pastor Maldonado, Roberto Gonzalez and Ryan Cullen. The Colombian, who took part in the full season last year with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, has turned laps with the Elton Julian-led team this weekend.

***Julian indicated to Sportscar365 they are likely to enter its European Le Mans Series-based Oreca for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, although with a yet-to-be-determined driver lineup.

***Newly signed Chip Ganassi Racing NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was spotted in the paddock today as well as McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who’s here in support of Fernando Alonso.

***Owen Hayes is engineering the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R this weekend on a freelance basis. Hayes, who has worked within multiple positions with the German manufacturer, has remained as race director for Porsche Motorsport North America. 

***GT Le Mans class entries are using Michelin’s current generation WEC tire options for the first time. At least five compounds will be on tap for 2019 including an IMSA-specific hard option, according to Michelin Motorsports North America director Chris Baker.

***Baker told Sportscar365 that Michelin had utilized the previous-generation WEC compounds to IMSA teams in seasons’ past, with the change now allowing GTLM teams such as Corvette Racing, Porsche GT Team and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing to be on the same tire options used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Multiple tire options will again be offered to GTLM teams on each weekend, with a single pre-designated Michelin compound for the DPi, LMP2 and GT Daytona classes.

***AIM Vasser Sullivan has yet to finalize the third driver for its No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 for the remainder of the Michelin Endurance Cup races, with Silver-rated Austin Cindric unavailable for Sebring and Watkins Glen due to his NASCAR Xfinity Series commitments.

***Team principal Ian Willis told Sportscar365 they are in talks with several drivers for the seat, with the car’s fourth driver, Super GT ace Nick Cassidy, ineligible due to his Gold rating by the FIA.

***Coincidently, the No. 14 Lexus is the same chassis that 3GT Racing ran last year, also as the No. 14 car. The number holds significance to the manufacturer as being the favorite number of Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda, who races himself.

***After experimenting with two different livery options at last month’s Michelin On-Track Opportunity at Daytona, AVS Autosport has finalized the black and dayglo yellow design it will run on both Lexus entries this year.

***Honda Performance Development is in the “final throes” of negotiations for new customer takeovers of several first-generation Acura NSX GT3s, according to HPD COO Steve Eriksen. Both Meyer Shank Racing Acuras have been replaced with all-new chassis for 2019.

***It’s understood the ex-MSR cars could appear in Blancpain GT World Challenge America this year with the new customers. “I think we’ll see some things coming out here in the next few weeks that will be pretty positive,” Eriksen told Sportscar365.

***Eriksen said that a new production batch of NSX GT3 Evos is underway at JAS Motorsport in Italy in order to maintain stock for its North American customers as well as potential additional new sales in Europe and Asia.

***Starworks Motorsport could expand into a two-car Audi operation for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races, with team principal Peter Baron revealing that he’s in discussions with several drivers for the new-for-2019 championship.

***The Florida-based team currently has possession of two Audis, both ex-Stevenson Motorsports chassis that were purchased by Eric Chase in late 2017 and run under the TruSpeed Autosport banner in Blancpain GT World Challenge America last year.

***While not yet official, IMSA is expected to have nearly 20 automotive partners this year, in what would be a “truly unprecedented” feat, according to IMSA President Scott Atherton. “It’s not just a car on the grid, it’s not just an entry, it’s got a lot more going for it,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “When you come back here and see the car display that fills the infield, you’ll know what I mean.”

***Hyundai became the 18th official automotive partner in November when it announced its TCR entry into Michelin Pilot Challenge, while IMSA recently wrapped up deals with Alfa Romeo (TCR) and Nissan (DPi), the latter via a new, yet-to-be-announced sponsor from CORE autosport.

***Former FOX Sports broadcasters Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall will remain in the IMSA paddock this year with a new, yet-to-be-announced trackside talk show. Details on the new online venture is expected to be revealed next week.

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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