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Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Daytona International Speedway…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Nick Tandy said his pole run was a “perfectly timed lap” with the Englishman having capitalized on the slipstream from two other GT Le Mans cars to take the Brumos-liveried No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to class pole, his third at Daytona.

***All four of the classes set new qualifying lap records, including Oliver Jarvis’ 1:33.685 time that broke PJ Jones’ 1:33.875 which was set in an All-American Racers Toyota Eagle MkIII GTP in 1993.

***A total of 40 Bronze or Silver-rated drivers will be required to complete their night lap requirements in tonight’s 90-minute night practice, which gets underway at 7 p.m. ET.

***Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook said there’s potential of additional retro liveries for the Ford GTs later this season, including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in what could be the car’s final appearance as a factory GTE-Pro squad. 

***The Nos. 66 and 67 entries are sporting historic Motorcraft and Castrol designs this weekend in celebration of IMSA’s 50th anniversary. “The drivers have asked if they win, can they keep the livery?” Rushbrook told Sportscar365. “If they win, we’ll support a lot of different things.”

***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is seeking its third consecutive GTLM class victory in the race.

***Rushbrook told Sportscar365 that a GT3 project still remains “in discussion” but revealed that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Ford GT. He ruled out an imminent decision or commitment, as the American manufacturer faces a number of other motorsports-related deadlines in the coming weeks.

***The initial build allocation of 50 new Porsche 911 GT3 Rs have all been sold, according to Porsche GT3 project manager Sebastian Golz, who revealed they’ve already delivered more than 15 cars to customers. The full build is due to be completed by the end of April.  “If we can build more, we can sell more,” Golz told Sportscar365. “It’s a good situation for Porsche.”

***The new-for-2019 GT3 machine makes its formal race debut this weekend, following an extensive testing and development program that saw more than 320 hours of track time between two test cars, including a 24-hour and 12-hour race with customer teams late last year.

***The No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo, Jeff Segal and Aaron Telitz is the only all-American driver lineup in this year’s race.

***Bell and Meyer Shank Racing driver AJ Allmendinger have a particularly busy weekend ahead, as they are also part of NBC Sports’ on-air talent lineup for its extensive coverage of the race. Both drivers were on the network’s coverage of qualifying on Thursday afternoon, which was aired for the first time on NBCSN

***Michelin has seen a significant ramp-up in staff and infrastructure for its first race in its expanded role in IMSA. The French tire giant is supplying 115 cars this year, compared to the nine GT Le Mans entries from 2018. It has resulted in an increase from 12 to 37 race tire engineers and motorsports tire specialists.

***Henrik Hedman says he “hasn’t had time to think about” returning to the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 class for 2019-20. The DragonSpeed driver told Sportscar365 that the U.S team has been flat out preparing its pair of LMP2 cars for Daytona rather than focusing on future WEC plans.

***Hedman, who is racing for DragonSpeed in the European Le Mans Series this year, added that the lack of full-season LMP2 entries in IMSA has been partly caused by lower costs in the ELMS: “This year there are a lot of LMP3 guys stepping up to LMP2 [in ELMS],” he said. “But if you do a full IMSA season, the budget is quite steep. There are American gentleman drivers, but they are doing ELMS because budget-wise it makes more sense.”

***The feature-length film “The Gentleman Driver” is set to be released for U.S. digital distribution on Jan. 31. Produced by Velvet Cartel and Speed Group, the documentary follows Ricardo Gonzalez, Mike Guasch, Ed Brown and Paul Dalla Lana through their 2015 and 2016 seasons and shows their successful careers away from the track.

***Iconically, only Dalla Lana has remained an active driver, and calls the film an “accessible view of life” of motorsports. “There are four pretty good stories in there and four great characters,” Dalla Lana told Sportscar365. “The competing issues of business and life, It’s really true.”

***WRT Speedstar team principal Vincent Vosse is at Daytona for the first time since he drove in the 2005 Rolex 24. On that occasion, Vosse shared a Red Bull Ebimotors Porsche 996 GT3 Cup with Karl Wendlinger, Johnny Mowlem and Dieter Quester.

***Bobby Rahal and Jeff Zwart were honored during the Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on Wednesday evening at Daytona, with Rahal picking up the 2019 Phil Hill Award and Zwart, an American commercial film director, racer, photographer, cameraman and author, collecting the Bob Akin Award.

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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