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Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 40 cars are expected to take part in this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24, with several drivers confirmed after the latest entry list was released earlier this week. A final entry list is expected to be published Friday morning prior to the start of the first test session.

***Nick Boulle is set to join Gabriel Aubry, Simon Trummer and Ben Keating in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, while Eric Lux will test, and has been confirmed, in the No. 47 PPM Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for the race alongside Brandon Gdovic.

***PR1/Mathiasen unloaded only one of its Oreca LMP2 cars today but has its second chassis on the truck.

***Tristan Vautier has been listed in both JDC Miller Motorsports-run Cadillac DPi-V.Rs for this weekend although is only expected to race the No. 85 car. Vautier was a full season driver with the Minnesota-based team last year.

***Only James Calado and Daniel Serra will test the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, which is a brand-new chassis. Technical director Rick Mayer told Sportscar365 that the Houston-based squad took delivery of the car on Dec. 26 following an initial shakedown at Fiorano.

***Risi’s Motul Petit Le Mans GT Le Mans class-winning Ferrari is on-site this weekend but will not take part in the test.

***Sportscar365 understands that Risi is planning to contest the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, with a GTE-Pro entry request for the 24 Hours of Le Mans also under consideration.

***Marcel Fassler and Nicky Catsburg will turn their first laps in the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R tomorrow, with both of Corvette Racing’s endurance drivers not yet having taken part in private testing with the team. The Pratt & Miller-run squad has tested at Daytona on two previous occasions.

***Catsburg completed virtual laps in Chevrolet’s simulator, which the Dutchman said provided him with “valuable insight” into what to expect with the new-for-2020 mid-engined GTE contender.

***The prospects of Josef Newgarden making his Rolex 24 debut have not materialized, despite reported attempts by the two-time and defending NTT IndyCar Series champion to take part in the race, potentially with Corvette Racing. 

***Scott Dixon explained that his search for a part-time sports car program, owing to his ongoing full-season IndyCar commitments, helped him gain a 2020 seat with Wayne Taylor Racing.

“We talked in August, then it was kind of off, but then at Petit Le Mans [in October] it was all done within an hour,” Dixon told Sportscar365. “For someone like me who’s only doing one or two races, there are definitely more situations to get it right, as opposed to the other four [ex-Ford GT drivers] who were looking for full-time rides.”

***A total of six former Ford GT drivers: Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Harry Tincknell, Olivier Pla and Jonathan Bomarito, are taking part in the 2020 WeatherTech Championship, either in full-time or Michelin Endurance Cup capacities.

***The new season has brought with it new liveries up and down the WeatherTech Championship paddock. Notable designs include a shift to white for the No. 77 Mazda DPi, a vibrant pop art livery for GEAR Racing’s GTD Lamborghini and Riley Motorsports’ Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Robinson Racing’s traditional 74 Ranch colors. Click Here to view a selection of photos from unloading day.

***The Heart of Racing is utilizing several top-level Aston Martin Racing staff for this weekend and the race, including AMR’s No. 1 mechanic and engineer for its FIA World Endurance Championship program, as well as the manufacturer’s head vehicle dynamics engineer.

***Team principal Ian James told Sportscar365 that the team has purchased a second Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for spare parts only. 

***Entries for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup are heating up, with at least three additional cars likely, including a possible Acura NSX GT3 Evo. The expanded eight-round season kicks off at Long Beach in April.

***Despite not taking part in this weekend’s Michelin Pilot Challenge test, which is optional for series competitors, HART is expected to contest several races with its Honda Civic Type-R TCR this year, including this month’s four-hour Daytona season-opener.

***Bryan Herta Autosport is set to announce its TCR program on Friday. Herta told Sportscar365 last year of his team’s ambitions of expanding to a three of four-car operation, although only two Hyundai Veloster N TCRs are entered this weekend.

***Dylan Murry and Jim Cox are likely to take part in a full season of IMSA Prototype Challenge with the Ave-Riley AR2 Nissan, according to Riley Motorsports team principal Bill Riley, who said the program is aimed to give Cox more prototype experience.

***The Ave-Riley LMP3 car’s homologation will lapse at the end of the year, with the constructor opting not to build a car to the ACO’s new LMP3 regulations, which are expected to debut in IPC competition in 2021.

***IPC cars gathered for a group shot on Thursday (pictured below), ahead of Saturday’s three-hour season-opening race. The race, which takes the green flag at 12:15 p.m. ET, will be broadcast on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold, with commentary from Jeremy Shaw and Brian Till, who makes his return to the booth after receiving treatment for throat cancer last year.

***Users in the U.S. can subscribe to an IMSA-only Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold package for $19.95 per year or $2.95 per month that will include IPC and Pilot Challenge races, as well as live WeatherTech Championship races without the need for a cable subscription.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

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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