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Detroit Weekend Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s weekend notebook from Belle Isle in Detroit…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

***Despite several teams experiencing problems in practice on Friday, all 26 cars on the entry list appear set to take part in Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit.

***The most extensive damage was suffered by the Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 which encountered a serious fire caused by an engine failure in Practice 2 with Andy Lally behind the wheel. Lally was unhurt.

***The team was forced to skip qualifying while making repairs but had a spare engine on site which had been installed by 7 p.m. EDT on Friday. A shipment of replacement parts, notably bodywork and electronic wiring, is expected to arrive in plenty of time to complete the repairs before the race.

***The No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R also underwent repairs following a spin for Felipe Nasr in Practice 2 that resulted in rear-end damage to the prototype. All components located to the rear of the engine were replaced following the crash, and the car ultimately qualified sixth in the hands of Eric Curran.

***It was a mad dash to qualifying for Wright Motorsports after the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Michael Schein, went off course and into a barrier in Practice 2 in order to avoid contact with another competitor. The crew managed to rapidly repair heavy right front suspension and bodywork damage, ultimately finishing the job just 10-minutes ahead of the qualifying session.

***Despite his very limited track time, Schein went on to qualify eighth in GT Daytona in his first time at Belle Isle.

***Robert Alon’s qualifying crash did not prove to be as significant as it first appeared according to JDC-Miller Motorsports team owner John Church. The No. 85 Oreca 07 Gibson sustained what the team termed “cosmetic damage” and is expected to be ready for the morning warmup session.

***The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Jeff Segal and Cooper MacNeil did not take part in morning warmup with the team simply electing not to turn laps in the session.

***Defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge Prototype champion team Wayne Taylor Racing returns to the site of its most recent victory this weekend with high hopes of returning to the winners’ circle. The team has won four of the last five events at the track dating back to the 2013 Grand-Am season.

***WTR driver Renger van der Zande, himself a two-time class winner in Detroit, said he was optimistic for the weekend but acknowledged street course races have their own unique perils. “Street courses are like a casino: sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad!” he said.

***Twelve of the 50 drivers on the entry list have won previously at Detroit in IMSA competition, but only three drivers in the field have more than one Detroit victory: van der Zande, his co-driver Jordan Taylor, and Acura Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor.

***Ricky Taylor’s co-driver Helio Castroneves is a multi-time winner at Detroit in IndyCar competition. The Brazilian scored his first major U.S. open-wheel win at the track in 2000 and later added additional wins in 2001 and 2014.

***GM has at least a class win in every race at its home circuit in Detroit since 2007, the first ALMS race at the venue. Chevrolet and Cadillac, both GM brands, have combined to win overall in each year dating back to the first Grand-Am event at Belle Isle in 2012.

***While there are no Chevys in the field this year, it is still the winningest marque in sports car racing at Detroit with a total of nine class victories.

***Immediately following the checkered flag falling on Saturday afternoon, several others from the IMSA paddock will hightail it to the airport for an overnight flight to France to participate in Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day. The list includes Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Cooper MacNeil, Jeff Segal, Ricky Taylor, Christina Nielsen, Patrick Long, and Renger van der Zande. Several of the drivers will be flown personally by frequent IMSA competitor and Park Place Motorsports team principal Patrick Lindsey.

***Park Place recently completed a test at Watkins Glen in preparation for the team’s return to the grid for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in July. The test saw the team’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama driver David Kolkmann sample the Porsche GT3 R for the first time alongside regular driver Joerg Bergmeister.

***Prototype teams will be allotted nine sets of Continental tires this weekend, while GTD teams will receive six sets. In all, Continental brought 1,160 tires to the track with 783 slick tires and 377 wet tires on hand.

***Nielsen, co-driver of the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche, will be hosting a large group of students from the Detroit International Academy of Young Women. The girls, from grades 6-12, are science class students, robotics team members and members of the Girls in Technology at the school.

***The 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic will be televised live on FS2 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. Live IMSA Radio coverage is available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com, and SiriusXM Radio

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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