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Laguna Seca Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook ahead of Monterey Sports Car Championship weekend…

Photo: Michelin

***This weekend’s Monterey Sports Car Championship marks only the second WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race to be held without ticketed fans, following the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in August. The Laguna Seca Recreation Area, however, has remained open, allowing for limited camping options on the property, which is owned by Monterey County.

***It’s understood, however, that several manufacturers are hosting VIP guests for the first time this year.

***A total of nine WeatherTech Championship drivers are coming from last weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, including Porsche’s Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Nick Tandy who claimed overall honors in the Belgian endurance classic. Other drivers included Dane Cameron, Renger van der Zande, Mario Farnbacher, Fred Makowiecki, Roman De Angelis and Alvaro Parente.

***The event, held behind closed doors, resulted in a number of drivers confirmed with positive COVID-19 cases including BMW factory pilots Nicky Catsburg and Martin Tomczyk. The race went ahead despite a surge of cases in Belgium, with an infection rate five times higher than the U.S., according to the Washington Post.

***Pipo Derani said he hasn’t spoken to Ricky Taylor since their rather-heated post-race conversation at Motul Petit Le Mans. “I don’t think there’s much to say there,” the Brazilian told Sportscar365. “It is what it is and we move on. It was pretty clear what happened and there’s not much to say about it.”

***The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R is back to its traditional ‘Banana Boat’ yellow livery this weekend, with Stephen Simpson teaming up with  Matheus Leist as Gabriel Aubry is on European Le Mans Series duty this weekend in Portimao.

***Travis Houge has been promoted to Vice President and general manager of Wayne Taylor Racing. Houge, who joined the Indianapolis-based team as crew chief 14 years ago, became team manager in 2014. “Travis is a true testament to hard work and ingenuity,” said Wayne Taylor.

***WTR will have an all-new driver lineup next year in its switch to Acura ARX-05 machinery, with both Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe not returning as full-season drivers, revealed by Sportscar365 last week. It’s understood Filipe Albuquerque will join Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta-sponsored Acura.

***Porsche could end up utilizing only its full-season WeatherTech Championship drivers in next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring due to a three-way clash that currently sees the FIA World Endurance Championship and GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup all in action on the same weekend.

***Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, who were announced by the German manufacturer to contest the three long-distance IMSA races, are instead currently committed to the GTWC Europe season finale at Paul Ricard, with Porsche provisionally not planning to replace them in the factory CORE autosport-run GT Le Mans entries at Sebring.

***The Dallara P217 Gibson looks set to make its long-awaited WeatherTech Championship debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Cetilar Racing understood to be planning to contest the Florida endurance classic with its WEC LMP2 chassis.

***Another WEC squad is understood to be finalizing plans for a full-season campaign in LMP2, which is projected to see between 4-7 full-time entries according to ORECA’s customer racing manager Anthony Megevand.

***Inter Europol Competition, which made its series debut at Motul Petit Le Mans earlier this month, utilized one of Era Motorsports’ Oreca 07 Gibson cars, in what’s understood to have been a timing-related decision.

***The Polish squad received support from both PR1 and Era in the ten-hour enduro, with the team confirmed for next month’s season-ending Twelve Hours of Sebring as well. 

***Sportscar365 understands that Era’s second Oreca LMP2 chassis, utilized in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has been leased to Eurasia Motorsport for a likely campaign in the newly restructured Asian Le Mans Series season that will feature exclusively at Yas Maria Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

***Further updates, including confirmation of the LMP3 class driver lineup requirements, were provided in an updated virtual ‘State of the Sport’ address by IMSA President John Doonan last week, which also confirmed revised testing regulations for some classes.

***Entry fees will not increase for 2021 while pricing for Michelin tires and VP Racing Fuels has also remained consistent across all series.

***IMSA’s end-of-season awards ceremonies for the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge, initially announced to be held at Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel, have been moved to the Sebring Hall of Fame building and will begin immediately following post-race technical inspection after each respective race next month.

***A similar informal socially distanced ceremony was held for IMSA Prototype Challenge at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta earlier this month.

***The compact two-day WeatherTech Championship event will see a pair of practice sessions on Saturday at 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. PT, followed by qualifying Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and the two-hour and 40-minute race getting underway at 1:05 p.m.

***A continuation of revised on-track sessions, which has seen the elimination of one practice session since the onset of COVID-19, will continue in 2021. A 20-minute race-day warmup session will occur “whenever practical” although IMSA has yet to detail specifics on weekend schedules for next year.

***The full 2021 sporting and technical regulations will be published on Nov. 16.

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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