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Laguna Seca Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from opening day of IMSA action at Laguna Seca…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

***A unique photo shoot was staged Thursday evening at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (pictured above), where one example of each manufacturer’s GT3 race car was joined by its road-going counterpart to showcase the strong connections between the racetrack and the streets. A total of 11 GT3 manufacturers are represented across the GTD Pro and GTD classes this year.

***Surprisingly, Filipe Albuquerque’s pace-setting 1:14.434 lap time from Friday’s practice session was less than four-tenths quicker than the GTP class track record, set by Matt Campbell last year in the No. 7 Penske Porsche 963.

***Times, however, were considerably faster on the resurfaced Laguna Seca in the production-based ranks, with Seb Priaulx some two seconds quicker than the previous GTD Pro track record and Philip Ellis nearly 2.1 seconds faster in GTD compared to the previous official benchmark.

***Sportscar365 understands that GTP cars were running considerably faster times in last month’s test at the track, which could forecast significant improvements still to come heading into qualifying tomorrow.

***The No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R will be repaired for tomorrow’s track action at Laguna Seca following a session-ending crash for Jack Aitken in Turn 4 during Friday’s only WeatherTech Championship practice session.

***The car appeared to sustain significant left-front damage but with no tub damage per a Cadillac spokesperson. Action Express does have a spare Cadillac chassis, its car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, on site.

***While Aitken was evaluated and released and escaped injury, the MGU and battery has to be disassembled from the Dallara-chassised LMDh car for inspection per IMSA rules, due to exceeding the g-force limit for an accident.

***Aitken said: “Practice was running quite well, but unfortunately coming into Turn 4 I had a little bit of a snap on the entry. I let the car recover a little bit, but it was out on the dust and I didn’t anticipate that it would lose grip that quickly and I was heading straight for the wall. I couldn’t do much about it. It doesn’t look like a terrible amount of damage, though it’s going to be a little bit longer day for the guys. I’m sure we’ll be back in action tomorrow. It’s just a shame to cause more work.”

***It was a difficult session for GM cars, with the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac sent to the garage with a water leak, while the No. 3 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R underwent a steering pump change.

***The Ford Mustang GT3s competing here this weekend and at the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps are running with updated diffusers and rear deck covers, approved by the FIA as a reliability-related update, a Ford Performance spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365.

***Harry Tincknell told Sportscar365: “I don’t feel anything different but hopefully when we get hit, it will feel different. Obviously it’s been a known issue from the start so hopefully it’s solved now. The rear deck is a lot more fixed down and the diffuser, we’ve had a few rear contacts and that’s quite a lengthy change to change it. Hopefully now it should be a lot more sturdy. These are the sort of things with a new car.”

***Team Penske President Tim Cindric, who along with other senior-level staff were suspended by Roger Penske from the next two NTT IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, due to the team’s ‘Push to Pass’ scandal, is on-site at Laguna Seca this weekend on top of the Porsche Penske Motorsport pit box.

***Proton Competition team boss Christian Ried admitted to Sportscar365 that the co-driver slot alongside Gianmaria Bruni in the team’s No. 5 Porsche 963 is likely to remain race-by-race for the rest of the season.

***Bent Viscaal is making his WeatherTech Championship debut in the car this weekend, while Ried confirmed that Alessio Picariello will be back as the third driver in the car for the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup races.

***Ried said he’s set a deadline of next week before pulling the team’s Porsche 963 reserve entry for Le Mans, which has been the first reserve. The German squad would need to utilize its WeatherTech Championship chassis, and thus miss both Detroit and Watkins Glen, if it receives a confirmed place on the grid for its second LMDh car.

***Proton is still pursuing purchasing two additional Porsche 963s for next year although Ried was non-committal if it would field a pair of top-class entries in both the WeatherTech Championship and WEC full-time.

***Tincknell said his participation in the final WEC/WeatherTech Championship clashing weekend, at Interlagos and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July, is a to-be-determined and “fluid situation.” The Multimatic-contracted driver has full season programs in both series and was ultimately selected to contest Laguna Seca over Spa, where he typically drives Proton’s Porsche 963 in the Hypercar class.

***He explained: “Imola was really good from a pace point of view but we didn’t get a result so I think it was seen the best place for me was to be here. I’m really excited for the 99 tomorrow [at Spa]. They qualified P3 and are doing a super job over there and I can’t wait for Le Mans.”

***Peacock will stream WeatherTech Championship qualifying on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. PDT (7:15 p.m. EDT), where Pipo Derani will be seeking his fourth consecutive pole position.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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