***Bacardi has purchased Patrón Spirits International for $5.1 billion, it was announced on Monday. The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of the year, will see the Patron executive team, including CEO Ed Brown, remain in their existing roles. “As Bacardi has had an ownership stake in Patrón for almost a decade now, and truly knows and appreciates our unique business, they are the best and most logical steward to continue our pursuit of perfection,” Brown said.
***It’s unclear if Patrón’s sale will impact its involvement in motorsports. The company’s sponsorship deal with Extreme Speed Motorsports is confirmed through the end of this year, while Michelin is set to replace Patron as the title sponsor of the Endurance Cup beginning in 2019. Brown retired from prototype racing last year, while Alexis DeJoria, the daughter of Patrón co-founder John Paul, has since hung up the helmet from NHRA competition.
***IMSA’s raft of Balance of Performance adjustments for race week has been the talk of the paddock. A Cadillac DPi team principal told Sportscar365 that its reduced air restrictor has cost them about 20 horsepower, while concessions have been made to both the Nissan Onroak DPi and Mazda RT24-P.
***Teams can expect more “spot checks” during the weekend, according to IMSA tech chief Geoffrey Carter, who said IMSA reserves the right to call cars into the scrutineering bay at any time, including during on-track sessions. All Prototypes and the top three qualifiers in GT Le Mans and GT Daytona were checked following Roar qualifying earlier this month.
***Carter said the IMSA technical committee has more data than ever to work with, including the addition of fuel flow sensors, which have been used for data collection only. “We’ve put in more effort, more resources and more time than ever before,” he told Sportscar365.
***SunEnergy1 Racing is likely to utilize a rotation of drivers for its No. 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 this year, alongside full-season driver/team owner Kenny Habul. Bill Riley, who has taken over the team’s operations, told Sportscar365 it could include several AMG factory drivers, based on availability. Maro Engel and Thomas Jager are part of the team’s lineup this weekend.
***It’s understood Tristan Vautier, who drove with Habul last year, could contest the GT-only rounds at Lime Rock Park and Virginia International Raceway, as the events do not clash with his new Prototype ride with Spirit of Daytona. The Frenchman is set to rejoin Habul in next weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
***Riley Team AMG debuts a brand-new Mercedes GT3 chassis this weekend, with the new No. 33 car having arrived from Germany last Wednesday. It marks the third Mercedes GT3 car Ben Keating owns, although the Texan has put at least one of his 2017 chassis up for sale.
***Joey Hand, Scott Pruett, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris took part the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte today. It came following a whirlwind media tour for Acura Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves in New York City last week that included the duo, along with IMSA President Scott Atherton, ringing the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange.
***The new BMW M8 GTE will be formally presented Wednesday evening during a launch event at the Daytona Beach Hilton. The German manufacturer’s first full GTE-spec car seven years will again be fielded by BMW Team RLL in the WeatherTech Championship.
***Members from BMW Team MTEK, which run the cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship, are expected here this weekend to observe the car’s competition debut.
***BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt says the WEC’s new ‘Super Season’ calendar will likely impact their timeline for the rollout of a possible Evo kit for the M8 GTE in the future. “We’ve learned quite a few things on the M6 that have gone into the M8 and if you want to do an Evo package you would have to start more or less right now, without having really run too much, if you want to be ready to have it for September or October next year,” he told Sportscar365.
***Scuderia Corsa has the most cars entered at Daytona this weekend, at 11, with two Ferrari 488 GT3 entries for the Rolex 24 and a series-high nine entries for the Ferrari Challenge season-opener.
***Cooper MacNeil will pull double duty between both series with Scuderia Corsa, with his father, WeatherTech CEO David, set to take part in the pair of Ferrari Challenge races as well in an entry that includes Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender.
***Grasser Racing Team is fresh off a third place finish in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai earlier this month. The team’s pole-sitting No. 964 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which featured the team’s Rolex 24 lineup of Mirko Bortolitti, Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen, fought back from three early race punctures to also post the race’s fastest lap.
***The Austrian squad has prime real estate this weekend, courtesy of Bortolotti’s quickest lap in GT Daytona qualifying at the Roar, which places them in the third pit box at pit-in and in one of the newer garage stalls in the paddock.
***Dion von Moltke has launched Racers360, a new online video library for all things coaching in motorsports. Von Moltke is targeting to have the world’s largest collection of in-depth on-board and training videos for drivers and coaches.
***Michelin, which takes over as the official tire of the WeatherTech Championship with next year’s Rolex 24, will hold a pair of informational meetings with IMSA manufacturers and team managers this weekend.
***A tire testing and development program is being planned at multiple venues throughout this year. “We are working in close collaboration with IMSA to provide day after event opportunities for IMSA teams to run with our Michelin IMSA tires on key IMSA tracks during the 2018 season,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
***Baker said additional Michelin tire engineers, who will join its trackside staff next year, are on-site this weekend for training purposes.