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WeatherTech Championship

Laguna Seca Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

***Mazda Team Joest returned to full strength in Friday’s afternoon practice session after the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P missed the morning session due to a turbo change. A team representative told Sportscar365 that the intake ingested debris, which led to the change.

***The No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS was forced to sit out the first 15 minutes of opening practice as a penalty for the team failing to submit its pre-event sensor declarations by the deadline.

***Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson said the reasoning for hiring Pipo Derani for 2019 was quite simple. “He outran us so much, we figured it’d be easier to have him on our team!” he told Sportscar365.

***Nelson said they are “very close” to securing the third driver in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R for the Michelin Endurance Cup races, with Gabby Chaves a ‘definite possibility’.  Chaves is set to complete the team’s lineup for next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.

“We’re going to test more with him in the coming weeks and race with him at Road Atlanta,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of value to equity in our program; somebody we’re familiar with. We don’t like starting over. We think that’s a very good possibility but we’ll see how it goes.”

***Nelson downplayed the prospects of a fourth driver for the No. 31 car for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, admitting they are not actively searching at this time. 

***It’s understood the winner of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge will likely be placed with a GT Daytona team at Daytona next year, ending a four-year run with Action Express.

***No further Cadillac DPi entries beyond the already announced additions are expected for 2019, with the deadline for commitments to Dallara and ECR Engines already having passed, according to Cadillac Racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser.

***As many as seven Cadillac DPis will be on the grid next year, should a program materialize for Spirit of Daytona Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing renew its contract with GM. 

***Cadillac pooled its resources in Michelin’s ‘On Track Opportunity’ at Daytona late last month, which saw Jordan Taylor turn laps in Spirit of Daytona Racing’s Cadillac DPi.V-R that featured engineering support from all three of its current DPi teams.

***A fifth and final scheduled Michelin on-track opportunity is scheduled for the Monday following the Motul Petit Le Mans and will be open to one car per team, instead of the previous one car per manufacturer that has been the case so far.

***Sportscar365 understands that Risi Competizione is likely to return for next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, with Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina tipped to drive the Ferrari 488 GTE car.

***Alexander Sims’ future in the WeatherTech Championship remains unclear, amid his likely appointment as a BMW Andretti driver in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, revealed by e-racing365 on Friday. Next year’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona clashes with the likely Formula E race in Santiago. 

***Robbie Montinola, the director of marketing communications & business development for Pirelli World Challenge, was spotted in the paddock on Friday. When asked by Sportscar365, Montinola said he’s only here “for the gelato” in reference to the dessert served in Lamborghini’s hospitality unit.

***Cooper MacNeil celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday, with the WeatherTech Racing/Scuderia Corsa crew presenting him with a cake during lunch time. 

***The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix was voted the fifth best motorsports race in the world, according to a fan vote in USA Today. The Indianapolis 500 was No. 1, followed by the Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Porsche’s Rennsport Reunion VI will be the next major event at Laguna Seca on Sept. 27-30, and is set to feature hundreds of cars and more than 50 drivers, including Vic Elford, Norbert Singer, Jacky Ickx and 12 of the current roster of Porsche factory drivers. The Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo is also set to make its only North American appearance.

***A total of seven Porsche Motorsport-built race cars are competing across the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, including the return of Park Place Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey.

***The Pirelli Trophy West USA series sees an additional 38 Porsches taking part this weekend, in the first-ever support weekend with the WeatherTech Championship for the series.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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