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Daytona Sunday Notebook

Sportscar365’s final notebook from the Roar Before the Rolex 24…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

***The top five cars from DPi qualifying for pit box and pit lane assignments all eclipsed Oliver Jarvis’ official qualifying track record of 1:33.685 achieved in qualifying for last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***The pole-sitting cars from each class have the freedom of selecting their pit box locations, with the rest of the teams slotting into a pre-determined order by IMSA.

***Risi Competizione’s James Calado, who claimed Roar pole in GT Le Mans, believes that everyone has “upped the ante” this year, which has seen all three manufacturers separated by 0.159 seconds in qualifying. “It’s not like previous years where a lot of people would hold back,” he said. “I think it’s pretty equal at the moment.”

***Rick Ware Racing packed up after Saturday’s running and did not take part in any of today’s sessions after encountering a series of issues with its Riley Mk. 30 Gibson. The car’s best lap time was a 1:42.314 set by James Davison and completed only 22 laps in the test.

***Last year’s GT Daytona winner GRT Grasser Racing suffered a blow to its No. 11 Lamborghini’s Rolex defense when Steijn Schothorst crashed in this morning’s session. The brand-new car sustained rear-end damage and was withdrawn from the test.

***It came as a double blow after the GRT entry, along with three other Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos, were disqualified from Saturday’s Roar qualifying for not running the Daytona-specific mandated gear stack.

***Sportscar365 understands the infraction, which saw the cars utilizing the IMSA’s mandated gearing for regular season races instead, was not intentional.

***The No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo sat out the final two sessions on Sunday following an accident by Shinya Michimi on Saturday night that caused minor rear-end damage. “The crash actually isn’t that bad, we could have come back out today if we wanted to but we decided to call it,” team co-owner Mike Shank said.

***The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which sat out all of Friday’s action due to news of Paul Dalla Lana’s skiing-related injury that has ruled him out of the race, ended up completing 76 laps between Ross Gunn, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy. Aston Martin Racing has yet to confirm if it will race, which is likely dependent on securing a replacement gentleman driver.

***DragonSpeed’s Colin Braun is set for his 16th consecutive start in the Rolex 24, dating back to TRG’s ‘Team16’ program in 2005 that features a trio of teenagers plus driver coach Ross Bentley in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

***The No. 77 Mazda RT24-P is sporting new colors this year via a new partnership with Japanese petroleum giant Idemitsu, which has been closely associated with Mazda. Idemitsu oils were used in the Mazda 787B that won at LeMans in 1991.

***This agreement between Idemitsu and Mazda Motorsports is a multi-year program and will also include the Global MX-5 Cup beginning this year and the Mazda3 TCR in 2021.

***As is the case with the No. 55’s Soul Red, Crystal, the new color on the No. 77 car, Arctic White, is a Mazda production car color. 

***The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R participating this weekend is chassis No. 3, while the No. 4 is chassis No. 2 and a test car is chassis No. 1. Corvette factory car chassis are typically numbered in correspondence with their race numbers, with the even chassis designations aligning with even race numbers and odd with odd.

***Sportscar365 understands that ACO President Pierre Fillon is set to meet with IMSA executives on Monday in Daytona, likely on the continuing subject of DPi/Hypercar convergence.

***A total of eight drivers will be heading straight from Daytona to the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, which takes place next weekend. A further seven (including drivers from IMSA Prototype Challenge) will travel to Australia for next weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series round at The Bend.

***The drivers managing the Roar and Dubai back-to-back are Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mirko Bortolotti, Rahel Frey, Rolf Ineichen, Eric Lux, Sven Mueller, Dries Vanthoor and Michelin Pilot Challenge competitor Philip Ellis. Tatiana Calderon is also heading to the Gulf to compete in the Asian F3 Championship support races.

***Harry Tincknell, Ross Gunn, Cody Ware, Jens Klingmann, John Farano and Prototype Challenge racers Garett Grist and Rob Hodes are the drivers traveling to Australia.

***WRT is the only IMSA team taking part in Dubai, with team principal Vincent Vosse absent from Daytona. Both Rick Ware Racing and Prototype Challenge outfit Nielsen Racing are heading to The Bend.

***GEAR Racing’s Calderon is excited by the prospect of being back in North American competition having concentrated on European single-seaters in recent years. “I have always liked it here,” said the Alfa Romeo F1 test driver, who last raced in the U.S. in 2014. 

***While this weekend marks Calderon’s first time behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, she also tested a GT3-spec Ferrari last August. The Colombian is not set to return to Formula 2 this year.

***Bentley factory driver Jules Gounon, who is driving the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura, said that his Daytona role emerged from previous ties with NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger.

“I know Lee really well,” Gounon told Sportscar365. “I drove for him in 2016 in the California 8 Hours with RealTime Racing. We worked well together there and when he asked if there was a possibility for me to drive in Daytona, I was super happy about it.

***WeatherTech Racing has submitted an entry request for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in what is expected to be a packed GTE-Am field. The Scuderia Corsa-run operation intends to utilize the same Ferrari 488 GTE chassis it ran in last year’s race, should an entry be granted.

***Richard Heistand is set to contest a full Endurance Cup season in SRO GT World Challenge Europe this year, running a Lamborghini in Am Cup. The GRT Michelin Endurance Cup driver got a first taste for the series last year when he ran the Total 24 Hours of Spa in a Mercedes.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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