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Detroit Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday IMSA notebook from Detroit’s Belle Isle…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Juan Pablo Montoya’s pole-winning lap of 1:19.373 was nearly three seconds faster than the previous track qualifying record, held by Pipo Derani. Nine of the 11 DPi cars broke Derani’s 1:22.273 from last year in Belle Isle.

***Montoya believes the change to Michelin tires for this year played a factor in the record-breaking qualifying lap. “I think the sidewall is softer and the stability of the car is a lot higher and you can really hustle the car now. It’s fun to drive,” he said.

***The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R was repaired following Misha Goikhberg’s heavy accident in opening practice. Goikhberg slammed into the spun No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3 of Matt Plumb in Turn 2, causing considerable front-end damage to the ‘Banana Boat’ DPi contender.

***Plumb’s car sustained left-side damage, primarily to the suspension, floor and exhaust after being hit at “full force” according to team owner Jill Beck. While missing the second practice session, Matt Plumb qualified the car 8th in class for only the car’s second race on U.S. soil.

***The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 battled clutch issues on Friday, with Cooper MacNeil qualifying the still-wounded Prancing Horse in 10th. It’s understood the car will undergo a clutch change overnight. Starworks Motorsport’s Audi R8 LMS Evo was another car to hit trouble, with Parker Chase suffering suspension issues in qualifying.

***Friday’s IMSA Green announcement, confirming its continued partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International, is also expected to see cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy according to IMSA President Scott Atherton, who said to expect confirmation “in the very near future.”

***Atherton likened the increased involvement to “getting the band back together” from the American Le Mans Series days, when the series sanctioned the efficiency-based Michelin GreenX Challenge.

***Representatives from the EPA and DOE have been in consultation with IMSA on its DPi 2.0 regulations, which will feature hybrid powertrains. With that, IMSA is targeting to become the first series to attain Green Racing “Cup” status based on a criteria defined within the SAE J2880, the Green Racing protocols, which was first published in 2008 and revised in 2014.

***Other IMSA Green initiatives include plans to reduce tire allotments through its partner at Michelin, as well as introducing a new consumer-based advanced fuel that will feature a higher octane and renewable fuel mixture. 

***Atherton said timelines for both measures have not been established, although admitted the goal of introducing the new VP Racing fuel blend alongside the rollout of DPi 2.0 in 2022 would be “really aggressive.”

***Former DOE/Argonne National Laboratory representative Robert Larsen, who helped create the ALMS Green Racing criteria, has joined IMSA as a consultant for IMSA Green and hybrid powertrains. 

***IMSA representatives will be visiting the New York City E-Prix in July, in what will be their first experience of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. “It’s purely just to see what it’s all about,” said Atherton.

***IMSA technical chief Geoff Carter clarified that all new or Evo cars are on a three-to-six race “probation” meaning they are not subject to the sanctioning body’s new-for-2019 Balance of Performance procedure that requires cars to be outside of the performance window for two consecutive races before an adjustment is considered.

***The revised procedure allows for IMSA to consider making data-based adjustments in the range of up to +/- 20 kg of minimum weight and/or 3 percent engine power after two consecutive races.

***Despite leading the overall GTD points standings, Meyer Shank Racing’s Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher head into tomorrow’s 100-minute race second in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup championship, following a runner-up finish to AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand at Mid-Ohio.

***Mid-Ohio served as the season-0pener for the new-for-2019 Sprint Cup, which features on all WeatherTech Championship weekends of races 2 hours and 40 minutes in length or less. Detroit is the only Sprint Cup-only round.

***The development of a TV series spinoff of “The Gentleman Driver” documentary is ongoing, and is close to securing a deal with a major TV network, according to executive producer Toni Calderon. The feature-length film, which follows Ed Brown, Ricardo Gonzalez, Mike Guasch and Paul Dalla Lana, is available on Netflix.

***Townsend Bell is undertaking his first “double duty” weekend in commentating and racing between two different series. The 2015 IMSA GT Daytona class champion will drive in Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship race in the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, while also call play-by-play for both NTT IndyCar Series races in the NBC Sports booth on Saturday and Sunday.

***Bell has been present in two of NBC Sports’ IMSA broadcasts so far, including in a unique driver/pit lane reporter role in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

***The full compliment of NBC Sports personnel are on-site this weekend, led by Leigh Diffey, Calvin Fish and A.J. Allmendinger, with Marty Snider and Dave Burns in pit lane. 

***The ever-present trio of John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam will lead coverage on IMSA Radio and for international viewers. It’s also a busy weekend for Radio Show Limited, which is providing exclusive radio coverage of Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day.

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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