***No further Balance of Performance adjustments are expected this week in the build up to the Rolex 24 at Daytona, although the new-for-2023 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 296 GT3 and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 are all on a ‘probational’ BoP period that allows IMSA, at its sole discretion, to make adjustments outside of the rolling average process as the season progresses. It is the same process used on the BMW M4 GT3 last year.
***IMSA technical director Matt Kurdock told Sportscar365: “We’ve got three new GT3 platforms that are introduced here at Daytona. Those certainly follow a different [BoP] process because we don’t have 2022 data to reference. We’re certainly looking forward to kicking off the race and seeing the true performance of all the cars in the WeatherTech Championship classes are like.”
***All 61 cars taking part in the 61st annual Rolex 24 at Daytona assembled for a group shot on Wednesday in the tri-oval (pictured above). The field was led by 2022 DPi champions Meyer Shank Racing and defending GTD Pro and GTD title-winners Pfaff Motorsports and The Heart of Racing, respectively.
***MSR team co-owner Mike Shank told Sportscar365 that its cooperation with fellow factory Acura GTP squad Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport has continued into the race week and is set for the entire WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. An initiative led by Honda Performance Development President David Salters, Shank said the two teams are sharing setup data and other information in a combined cloud-based portal.
***While WTR Andretti is plotting an expansion to a two-car GTP class effort next year, Shank said he’s content remaining a single-car operation in the WeatherTech Championship. “I like what we have here right now,” he said.
***Matt McMurry stayed busy this week, with the CrowdStrike Racing by APR driver tending to his ‘day job’ as a vehicle dynamics engineer for Honda Performance Development, the engineering group behind the debuting Acura ARX-06. McMurry wrote part of the vehicle dynamic control system for the LMDh car, which he tested several times on-track during its development last year.
***IMSA has declared the “non mandatory use” of Michelin’s soft low temperature (SLT) tire compound for the GTP class has been authorized in the race between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Additionally, teams will be permitted to use the compound in Thursday’s night practice for the full duration from 7:15-9 p.m. The soft high temperature (SHT) will be permitted throughout the race.
***GTP entries are permitted up to nine sets of the SLT in the race, with a maximum of 12 sets for the entire event. Tomorrow evening’s running will be many teams’ first running on the compound after last weekend’s night session was impacted by rain.
***IMSA and Michelin are permitting two different tire compounds for the first time in its top class, which was done in reaction to last year’s below-freezing overnight ambient temperatures in the race. This weekend’s forecast calls for significantly warmer conditions, with a low of 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius) on Sunday morning.
***Michelin’s new GTP tires have been considered a step forward in performance and durability to the previous DPi compounds, with development having started from the WEC’s Hypercar class tire according Michelin IMSA WeatherTech Series manager Hans Emmel, who said that all three allocated GTP compounds will be utilized in the WEC as well this year.
***Emmel told Sportscar365: “What we’ve been able to see in on track testing and simulation and bench testing we do — it’s a multi-faceted approach to developing these tires. We’re always aiming for improved endurance of the tire. What does that mean? [It’s] the capability of the tire to withstand more energy and that’s critical with these cars.”
***Risi Competizione continued to struggle with electronic issues in qualifying, according to driver Davide Rigon. The Texan team’s Ferrari 296 GT3 will start last in GTD Pro and 53rd overall. “It was a big issue with the programming,” Rigon told Sportscar365. “We worked so hard to fix the big issue that actually we don’t have any idea about race pace.”
***Iron Lynx is making its Rolex 24 debut; however, the team has prior connections to Daytona. In late 2016, Claudio Schiavoni and Deborah Mayer raced here in the Ferrari Finali Mondiali, coached by Sergio Pianezzola and Andrea Piccini. The quartet went on to establish Iron Lynx the following year. “It’s where we started thinking of building Iron Lynx,” Piccini told Sportscar365.
***Two of the Iron Lynx Lamborghini machines – the No. 83 and No. 19 – are all-new cars built the new EVO2 specification. The No. 63 racing in GTD Pro is an upgraded factory owned Huracan GT3 Evo chassis that Iron Lynx ran in last month’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway.
***According to Piccini, the No. 19 Lamborghini will be flown back to Europe after the Rolex 24 to be prepared for use in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS pre-season test at Paul Ricard on March 7-9.
***Iron Lynx has brought in Thomas Blam and Scott Jasmund of K-PAX Racing/Flying Lizard Motorsports to serve as race strategists for two of the team’s entries. Both have extensive U.S. racing endurance racing experience for the Italian squad’s U.S. debut.
***Ben Keating scored his and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ fourth consecutive pole for the Rolex 24 in LMP2 on Sunday, spread between two traditional qualifying formats and a pair of qualifying races. Keating set single fast laps in 2020 and this year, while teamed with Mikkel Jensen to win the qualifying races held in 2021 and 2022.
***Era Motorsport kept “a lot of continuity” in its backroom staff through the off-season, according to driver Ryan Dalziel. “We had a couple of changes from 2021 to 2022, but the core group is still the same guys,” he said. “We started prepping for Daytona before Petit, as far as parts are concerned. There are known supply chain issues, so we turned up here probably the most prepared, as a team, in a long time.”
***SunEnergy1 Racing drivers, including Kenny Habul, Axcil Jefferies and Fabian Schiller, have spray painted their hair metallic blue to reflect the primary color on the team’s No. 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that qualified second for the Rolex 24 in GTD.
***Leading French outfit Akkodis-ASP is again operating the SunEnergy1 effort this weekend as well as in next weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which will see Habul and Luca Stolz look to defend their overall victory in the Australian GT3 enduro.
***The Rolex 24 will not mark Mike Conway’s first GT race as the Englishman took part in an International GT Open round on the streets of Valencia in a Dodge Viper GT3 car in 2008, winning one of the GTS class races alongside co-driver Ho-Pin Tung. Conway was in his final year of GP2 at the time prior to his move to IndyCar.
***Ryan Hardwick hasn’t ruled out contesting several IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup races this year in addition to his already confirmed Michelin Endurance Cup program in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. The reigning IMSA Bob Akin Award winner will take part in a full European Le Mans Series season in a Proton Competition-run Porsche 911 RSR-19.
***Hardwick is unable to run for the championship in both the ELMS and Sprint Cup as the WeatherTech Championship race at Virginia International Raceway clashes with the ELMS round at Motorland Aragon in late August. “Our car is entered for the whole [IMSA] season,” he said. “I’m for sure doing all of the endurance races and probably a good bit, if not all of the sprint races, but I haven’t quite decided that yet.”
***The driver lineup for the NASCAR Garage 56 Le Mans effort is set to be announced this weekend. Both seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller have been part of the car’s development, with an endurance test scheduled at Daytona following the Rolex 24.
***Forte Racing powered by US RaceTronics is set to again field four full season entries in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America according to team principal Shane Seneviratne, who told Sportscar365 that additional entries are likely for the team’s home race in the season-opening round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
***USRT is also looking to expand its VP Racing SportsCar Challenge effort into a two-car LMP3 class operation alongside its current Ligier JSP320 Nissan for Brian Thienes, who finished runner-up in the two season-opening races last weekend.
***Seneviratne said he’s held talks with Steven Aghakhani, who drove for the team in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS last year, about a potential IMSA program. It’s understood the team will not continue in SRO America competition this year amid its full-season GTD operation with Loris Spinelli and Misha Goikhberg.
***Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella took home the ‘Dustang Cup’ in the 2023 Motorsport Attorney Invitational golf tournament held at the LPGA International golf course on Monday. The Mercedes-AMG factory trio shot 13-under par to record the best round of the day amongst the six competing groups. The scramble-format tournament was organized by motorsport and immigration attorney Dustin Hesseltine and featured a field of 24 players who took part in the second annual event.
***Gounon is now a two-time winner of the tournament after he took a solo victory in last year’s tournament. Andrea Caldarelli, Oliver Jarvis, Ollie Millroy and Jordan Pepper took second place, having shot nine-under par, while Maxime Martin, Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler and Harry Tincknell completed the podium with their seven-under par performance.
Daniel Lloyd & Jonathan Grace contributed to this report