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Laguna Seca Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca…

Photo: Sam Cobb

***New IMSA track qualifying records were achieved in four of the five classes today between WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge competition. Only Katherine Legge’s GT Daytona pole-sitting 1:24.456 lap from last year in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 held up.

***Acura Team Penske claimed its third front row sweep of the year, led by pole-sitter Ricky Taylor. “Jordan [Taylor, brother] had the pole last year and I had the pole this year,” Ricky said. “But the first thing I saw was my dad, who caught me with a little piece of paper that said he did a 14.9 in the Intrepid. So, we’re still not as good as dad.”

***GT Le Mans pole-sitter Jesse Krohn and co-driver John Edwards will be looking to continue BMW Team RLL’s streak of success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca tomorrow, with the team having claimed class wins in three of the last four years. Krohn said: “We’ve switched to the black-liveried car. That has brought us some luck in the past, maybe some today as well.”

***GTD and GS class teams have moved back to Michelin’s Pilot Sport S8M commercial tire compound for the first time since Detroit, following a five-race summer stretch on the harder-compound S9M option. The S8M will also be utilized at next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.

***According to Michelin North America motorsport technical director Ken Payne, the change to the S8M is down to the track’s low grip and usual moderate temperatures. “We really wanted to try and offer a tire that, as best we can on this track surface, maximize the available grip for the competitors,” Payne told Sportscar365.

***Michelin has brought 3,400 tires to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the two races this weekend.

***Bill Auberlen has the chance to tie Scott Pruett as the most winningest driver in IMSA history tomorrow. A photo call was arranged on Saturday morning with the two drivers (pictured above). Lexus ambassador Pruett, who holds a record 60 wins, will serve as grand marshal for tomorrow’s race.

***Compass Racing is unlikely to contest Petit Le Mans according to team principal Karl Thomson, meaning Sunday’s race could mark the final regular-season outing for the McLaren 720S GT3. “Petit Le Mans is an endurance race and McLaren is committed to the Sprint races [this year],” Thomson told Sportscar365. “There’s been some consideration we might do the Encore [instead].”

***Thomson said they remain committed to returning to the WeatherTech Sprint Cup next year with at least one McLaren, but will have to “collectively” look at whether a full-season GTD program is a “good spend” for all partners involved.

***Michael Shank told Sportscar365 that his team will be back with at least one Acura NSX GT3 Evo next year, with a lot of “moving pieces” currently at play. “I think we can safely say we will do one [car] for sure and the second one, there’s a lot of different options,” he said.

***Shank said he’s anticipating that Trent Hindman will be upgraded to Gold rating by the FIA or IMSA, while he hopes to continue their relationship with Jackie Heinricher’s all-female lineup Caterpillar program for a second season.

***Shank confirmed that he “came close” to securing a DPi program for next year, although has not ruled it out for 2021. “I would love to get back to it in the very near future,” he said. “We’ll see when that time comes or not.”

***IMSA has yet to finalize the size of its hybrid system for the next-generation ‘DPi 2022’ platform. Sportscar365 understands that discussions from the latest steering group committee meeting, held earlier this week in Daytona centered around a possible 120-volt system, down from a 400-volt system that had been suggested earlier in the summer.

***While known to be in discussions for a potential DPi program, Hyundai Motor America COO Brian Smith declined to comment on the brand’s potential step up to top-level prototype competition in the future. “I’ve heard the same rumors but there’s nothing else I can add on that,” Smith told Sportscar365.

***Grasser Racing Team could join Belgian Audi Club Team WRT as full-season GTD entrants next year, with the Austrian squad the latest to be rumored to be mounting a season-long effort with at least one Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. It’s understood GRT is already confirmed for Daytona, where it will be seeking its third consecutive class victory.

***Cooper MacNeil is set to join Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga at the wheel of a Black Falcon-run Mercedes-AMG GT3 in November’s Hankook 24 Hours of COTA. Keating and Bleekemolen have taken part in the 24H Series event since the inaugural event in 2017 where they finished second overall.

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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