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Detroit Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Detroit’s Belle Isle as IMSA teams unload…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 20 entries are set for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle, although only the six-car DPi class will be competing for full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points.

***Detroit marks the first of two WeatherTech Sprint Cup-only rounds for the GT Daytona class while the pair of Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs will not score season-long GT Le Mans points, having been added to the field following the postponement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***The No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is a new chassis this weekend after an accident in testing at Mid-Ohio, which Sportscar365 understands ultimately led to the team’s withdrawal from the May 14-16 event.

***Peter Baron is on-site “assisting with duties” with the Austrian squad this weekend, with team principal Gottfried Grasser and its regular engineer at the Red Bull Ring for the ADAC GT Masters event, where GRT is fielding four Lamborghinis. The remainder of the crew in Detroit are team regulars.

***GRT’s second Lamborghini is not expected to make any further WeatherTech Championship appearances this season despite having been initially mooted for the full Michelin Endurance Cup.

***With the 2020 event not having been held due to COVID-19, Acura heads into Detroit as defending overall winners, with Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya having claimed top honors with Team Penske in 2019. Cameron is now part of Meyer Shank Racing’s lineup with its Acura ARX-05.

***Acura has a total of four IMSA wins at Belle Isle, its first coming in the 2008 American Le Mans Series race with Andretti Green Racing’s Franck Montagny and James Rossiter in an Acura ARX-01b LMP2 car, which claimed overall honors that year.

***Corvette Racing’s last appearance at Belle Isle came in that same event in 2008.

***Porsche has kept its streak alive of being the only manufacturer to enter every IMSA-sanctioned GT event with the single Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R for Katherine Legge and Rob Ferriol, who makes his street course debut, this weekend. 

***It marks the first IMSA race in recent memory that a Porsche factory driver is not in the field, with Wright Motorsports (Patrick Long) and Pfaff Motorsports (Laurens Vanthoor) among the GTD teams electing to forgo the standalone Sprint Cup rounds this year.

***Townsend Bell will be pulling double duty between the NBC Sports IndyCar television booth and driving the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F GT3 this weekend after getting the late call to replace Zach Veach, who tested positive for COVID-19. It marks Bell’s second start of the year after being the team’s fourth driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’m super happy to get the opportunity to race the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 this weekend at Detroit,” he said. “Obviously, I wish it was under different circumstances and I want to wish Zach a speedy recovery.”

***The NBC Sports broadcast team are on-site this weekend, with Saturday’s NBCSN broadcast to be anchored by Dave Burns and Calvin Fish in the booth and Marty Snider and Kevin Lee in pit lane. The shift to a 5 p.m. ET race start is understood to have been made because of the available live TV time slot. 

***Several teams are coming off tests at Watkins Glen in advance of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, including Wayne Taylor Racing and Vasser Sullivan as well as a number of GTLM, LMP2 and LMP3 class competitors not in action this weekend. 

***September’s IMSA round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca received formal approval from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors this week after initially being brought into question. A new three-year agreement with IMSA, the county and new track operator A&D Narigi is understood to have been signed.

***Official confirmation of Cadillac’s LMDh program is not expected to come this weekend despite initially being on the cards. Sportscar365 understands that the manufacturer is still working to secure contracts with partner teams before formally announcing its participation.

***Cadillac would be the fifth manufacturer to commit to LMDh joining Acura, Audi, Porsche and BMW, which confirmed on Thursday through a social media post by BMW M CEO Markus Flasch.

***A technical working group meeting between LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar manufacturers is scheduled for next week in Paris, with convergence between the two platforms understood to be the primary topic of discussion. 

***James French will join Tower Motorsport by Starworks for the remainder of the Michelin Endurance Cup races at Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in the team’s Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car. French will take the place of Timothe Buret in the lineup alongside full-season drivers John Farano and Gabriel Aubry. 

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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