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WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Daytona International Speedway with Roar set to kick off…

Photo: John Dagys

***The majority of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams unloaded this morning at Daytona International Speedway for the next 11 days that will include the Roar Before the Rolex 24 followed by the race week itself. GTP teams were required to load-in on Monday for additional safety and technical inspections.

***In addition to Thursday’s activities in the garage area, WeatherTech Championship competitors took part in IMSA’s Media Day in the Daytona 500 Champions Club, offering journalists time to speak to drivers prior to the start of official track action.

***Open-wheel rising star Francesco Pizzi has completed Proton Competition’s lineup in its No. 55 Oreca 07 Gibson alongside Fred Poordad, James Allen and Gianmaria Bruni, who makes his second-ever LMP2 start after an outing in Pecom Racing’s Oreca 03 in the 2012 European Le Mans Series round at Paul Ricard.

***Bruni told Sportscar365 that he’s “99 percent” set to drive Proton’s LMP2 entry in the ELMS this year, although the remainder of the lineup remains to be determined. The Porsche factory driver will also be part of Proton’s customer Porsche 963 effort when it comes online later this year.

***Dries Vanthoor is the reserve driver for BMW M Team RLL at Daytona. The Belgian GT3 star, who won the Hankook 24H Dubai last weekend, is on standby in case one of the seven main drivers is unable to take part. Vanthoor told Sportscar365 that he hasn’t yet driven the BMW M Hybrid V8.

***Several GTP teams took part in shakedowns and tests prior to arriving at Daytona. Porsche Penske Motorsport conducted a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway last weekend, in what marked the first running for its second dedicated race chassis.

***The two Porsche 963s covered nearly 2,200 kms during the test, putting its total mileage with the car at 32,000 kms since the initial rollout one year ago in Weissach. Cadillac is understood to be the manufacturer with the second-most mileage with its LMDh car with more than 20,000 km.

***Meyer Shank Racing, meanwhile, completed a shakedown of its Acura ARX-06 at the Concours Club near Miami with Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves in attendance.

***In addition to the GTP tables, IMSA released the Balance of Performance for the GTD Pro and GTD classes, which will continue to run to identical BoP. Click Here to view the table which sees some notable changes from last year’s race. Daytona has typically resulted in an event-specific BoP due to the nature of the track.

***A revised version of the LMDh technical regulations was released by the ACO and IMSA on Wednesday, featuring a handful of clarifications related to permitted cockpit modifications for driver fit, among other items.

***IMSA and Michelin have adjusted the GTP class tire allocations from its originally announced numbers. Teams now have a total of 33 sets (12 soft ‘low temperature’ and 21 soft ‘high temperature’) to be used for the combined Roar and Rolex 24 event and 21 sets for the race (9 SLT, 12 SHT).

***Previously the allocations for the Roar and the Rolex 24 were split up. The numbers compare to a maximum of 38 sets of tires that were permitted in the DPi class last year at this event.

***Per the the Rolex 24 supplementary regulations, the SLT compound will only be permitted to be utilized in the night testing and practice sessions at the Roar and Rolex 24, respectively, as well as a yet-to-be determined night-time time window during the race that IMSA and Michelin will declare closer to the event based on ambient conditions.

***Risi Competizione’s new Ferrari 296 GT3 completed a shakedown on Monday at MotorSport Ranch in Texas with Anthony Lazzaro at the wheel prior to arriving at Daytona according to the team’s chief engineer Rick Mayer. The Houston-based team announced on Thursday a return for the full Michelin Endurance Cup races this year in GTD Pro.

***CrowdStrike Racing by APR conducted five days of testing with its ex-Team Penske Oreca 07 Gibson prior to arriving at Daytona, including tests at Apex Motor Club and Podium Club Attesa, both near Phoenix, according to the team’s technical director and race engineer David Leach.

***Leach told Sportscar365 that the team, which has set up its U.S. base at Apex, has acquired equipment from the now-defunct CORE autosport team, including a transporter. The CrowdStrike program only came together in November after CORE closed its doors, as Kurtz was initially tabbed to again drive in the team’s Ligier JS P320 Nissan in LMP3.

***CORE’s multiple Ligier chassis, meanwhile, have gone to Sean Creech Motorsport, while a number of its crew have found work with other WeatherTech Championship teams in the paddock.

***Chip Ganassi Racing’s global director of operations Mike O’Gara will be calling strategy on the No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh this year, which sees Danielle Shepherd move over from the No. 02 car to serve as lead engineer on the full-season WeatherTech Championship entry.

***CGR’s FIA World Endurance Championship team manager Stephen Mitas, meanwhile, will call strategy on the No. 02 next weekend, with John Hennek moving over to engineer the blue-colored Cadillac of Richard Westbrook, Alex Lynn and Earl Bamber.

***As previously reported by Sportscar365, former lead mechanic Jamie Coates is now serving as team manager for CGR’s WeatherTech Championship effort.

***Brandon Fry has been promoted to Vice President of Team RLL’s IMSA operations and technical director as part of a management shakeup that’s seen Steve Eriksen join the organization as Chief Operating Officer.

***Longtime IMSA official Geoff Carter is no longer with the organization, with his most recent position as senior director of series platforms apparently having been eliminated. An IMSA spokesperson told Sportscar365 that they will not comment on staff changes.

***Filipe Albuquerque’s helmet has been refreshed for the coming season to include glow-in-the-dark Acura ‘S’ logos between the Portuguese driver’s familiar yellow, red and green stripes.

***Renger van der Zande is also sporting a new helmet design, commemorating the Dutchman’s tenth year of racing in America. He told Sportscar365 that he plans to use it for the full season in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing GTP entry.

***Van der Zande has launched his own racing insurance business, Pogona, which insures drivers, cars and teams. A number of competitors in the paddock, including MDK Motorsports, are insured by his new company, as well as competitors worldwide. MDK’s Porsche 911 GT3 R is sporting the Pogona logo this weekend.

***Van der Zande said: “I asked Mark [Kvamme, MDK team owner/driver] to move the logo from the side of the car to the rear so I can see it when I pass it on track!”

***In a change for this year, top class cars will not complete final post-race tech inspection until the Monday after the Rolex 24. All selected GTP cars will be impounded immediately and take part in preliminary inspections before being placed in a secured garage location, with final post-race tech inspection to be held on Mon. Jan. 30 beginning at 8:30 a.m.

***Corvette Racing enters its 25th year of competition in 2023, with the Rolex 24 marking the first race for Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner as a driving trio. All three of the drivers have shared a Corvette with one another at some stage but have never formed the same lineup until now.

***Milner, who moves over from the team’s WEC program, will be focused on the Michelin Endurance Cup races with the team as well as development duties of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R, which will be unveiled at Daytona International Speedway next Friday.

***Jules Gounon, who is set for his first full WeatherTech Championship season, is racing under an Andorran race license this year. The Frenchman, who lives in Andorra, made the switch during the off-season.

***IMSA Radio is back for 2023 with the unchanged full-season lineup of John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam, who are all on-site this weekend and aim to broadcast every on-track WeatherTech Championship session plus the pair of VP Challenge races.

***The VP Challenge races take place Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and Sunday at 12:15 p.m. with live coverage in U.S. on Peacock. Qualifying for the Rolex 24 will be on, with no geo restrictions, beginning Sunday at 1:20 p.m.

Daniel Lloyd 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

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