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Daytona Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from Roar Before 24…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Electrical gremlins have struck multiple Gibson-powered LMP2 cars, with both PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ligier JS P217 and the JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 having been parked at stages over the course of the last two days due to issues with their steering wheels.

***The PR1/Mathiasen Ligier lost the morning session as it waited for a replacement wheel from Cosworth, which arrived in the early afternoon, while the JDC-Miller Oreca has battled intermittent issues since its test at Sebring last month.

“The problem is that it’s dangerous because sometimes when it goes down, you lose everything. Yesterday afternoon when Chris [Miller] was coming up onto the banking, he lost all control of the wheel,” JDC-Miller team co-owner John Church told Sportscar365.

***Eleven of the 12 Prototype class entries managed to get on track in Saturday afternoon’s session, with Neel Jani taking the Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson to a fastest lap of 1:39.017. The Mazda RT24-Ps and Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibsons showed improved form, bouncing back from suspension issues on Friday.

***The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi was the only P class car not to set a time in Saturday afternoon’s session, as it underwent an engine change. It will return to action for tonight’s 90-minute session.

***The PR1/Mathiasen Ligier was quickest in the speed traps, clocked at 194.3 mph on Saturday, with the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, running a 30mm gurney this weekend, nearly 10 mph off the pace from its 200 mph top speed seen here last month at the test.

***IMSA has declined to comment on the evolving BoP impacting the LMP2 and DPi cars. Further changes are expected to be made prior to the race later this month.

***Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan admitted pole time could be slower than initially expected, due to the current aero restrictions imposed. “Maybe 1:38s is the number,” he told Sportscar365. “I’m not sure they can go that fast again. Aero wise, based on the BoP sheets [they’ve been pegged back].”

***The No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 is potentially done for the weekend after having engine failure in the morning session with Chapman Ducote at the wheel. It’s the same car that features Buddy Rice, in his full-time return to racing.

***Newly crowned WEC GTE-Pro champion Marco Sorensen has been added to the No. 98 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, alongside Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy. The Dane is set for his Rolex 24 debut. Dalla Lana told Sportscar365 they were unable to have Nicki Thiim in the lineup due to his new Platinum driver rating.

***A new IMSA rule for the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes permits only one Platinum-rated driver in a four or five-driver lineup, or two Golds for Daytona. Lamy is AMR’s designated Platinum driver in the No. 98 entry alongside the Silver-rated Lauda, Bronze-rated Dalla Lana and Gold-rated Sorensen.

***Other drivers that have since tested the No. 88 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 include James Dayson and Scott Mayer, who along with Alex Popow and Sebastian Saavedra, remain in the frame for drives in the race, according to team principal Peter Baron.

***A total of five PC cars are set for the race, but as few as two could take part in the entire eight-round championship, with only the No. 20 BAR1 entry and No. 38 Performance Tech car confirmed for the season. Pato O’Ward will team with James French in the Performance Tech car, in the latest confirmed full-season driver lineup.

***JDC-Miller’s Church, meanwhile, has confirmed Stephen Simpson as the team’s season-long driver alongside Mikhail Goikhberg in the No. 85 Oreca. The Canadian-based Russian was previously the only announced full-season driver in the Minnesota-based team’s new LMP2 contender.

***Porsche’s factory GT Le Mans team, formerly known as Porsche North America, has been renamed to Porsche GT Team, as part of a global restructuring that will see the Manthey-run FIA World Endurance Championship squad run under the same moniker. CORE autosport continues to operate the IMSA team, having signed a contract extension last year.

***Of note, Olaf Manthey is on-site this weekend, overseeing his customer GT Daytona class effort for drivers Steve Smith, Nils Reimer, Reinhold Renger, Harald Proczyk and newly named Porsche factory driver Sven Mueller. It marks the German squad’s first Rolex 24 effort since 1999, when Manthey was part of the driver lineup in a Porsche 993 RSR.

***The livery on the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS is inspired from the IMSA Audi 90 GTO, and other variants, that took part in IMSA and Trans-Am competition in the 1980s (pictured above). Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo and Pierre Kaffer will pilot the new-generation Audi at Daytona, with Sweedler, Bell and Montecalvo confirmed for the full four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

***A number of drivers without rides are making the rounds in the paddock this weekend, including Spencer Pumpelly, Dion von Moltke and James Davison. Pumpelly was dropped by Change Racing only last week, and is in jeopardy of missing the Rolex 24 for the first time in 13 years.

***Twenty-five drivers and motorsports professionals were voted into the Road Racing Drivers Club, including CORE autosport team owner Jon Bennett, Christian Fittipaldi, Sage Karam, Joel Miller, Spencer Pigot, Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Alex Wurz, with Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan and Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan among the Associate Member inductees.

***More than 3,000 children and their families are camping in the Daytona infield this weekend as part of the annual Scout Days. Girl Scouts have been added for the first time this year, with the two-night event running through Sunday.

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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