***This weekend’s Northeast Grand Prix marks the first GT-only race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Lime Rock Park. The last two years have seen Prototype Challenge cars mixed in with GT Daytona class entries, with GT Le Mans having made its event debut in 2016.
***This weekend, Corvette Racing returns to the site of its 100th win, which came at Lime Rock last year. The team has since added five more race wins, two in 2016 and three more so far this season. The odds are favorable that the Pratt & Miller-run squad will find win number 106. The team has won five times in ten appearances at Lime Rock, and the driving lineup has a combined six victories at the circuit.
***The No. 3 Corvette C7.R and drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen currently lead the GT Le Mans points standings by a narrow three-point margin over BMW Team RLL drivers Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims, the latter of whom will be making his track debut.
***Unlike several of its GTLM competitors which have already tested or raced at Lime Rock, the Porsche 911 RSR will be making its track debut this weekend. Also debuting is Laurens Vanthoor, who will be racing alongside Gimmi Bruni in the No. 912 Porsche.
***Park Place Motorsports driver Joerg Bergmeister has had remarkable success at the Connecticut track. His resume includes six wins in eight starts at Lime Rock, including two fifth-place finishes overall when the event included prototype entries.
***ORECA technical director David Floury said he expects additional Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 cars to be on the grid next year, with anything less than three full-season entries being a “disappointment.” “The target for us is the IMSA championship. It’s the only championship we see growing and we want to be a part of it,” Floury told Sportscar365.
***Floury said they’re working through different “scenarios” that could see additional Orecas for as early as Petit Le Mans, with Team Penske still not ruling out an end-of-year debut with a global-spec Gibson-powered car, to prepare for its ORECA-chassied Acura DPi program in 2018.
***JDC-Miller Motorsports, meanwhile, is targeting an expansion into a two-car LMP2 effort for next year, with both BAR1 Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports eying a step up to the Prototype class, in the wake of the end of the Prototype Challenge category.
***Floury has praised IMSA’s efforts on Balance of Performance between DPi and LMP2 machinery and believes it’s best to keep the two platforms under a single category for the time being. “Generally the races are quite open and quite entertaining which I think is quite good for the series and for everyone involved in the series because it’s really a great show. The two last races were really fascinating,” he said.
***Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who served as the grand marshal and honorary starter for the WeatherTech Championship race at Long Beach in April, died at the age of 41 on Thursday. Bennington and Linkin Park have been part of a marketing promotion with AMG that saw the band members design the livery for Black Falcon’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 that competed in last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, where Bennington had also served as grand marshal in.
***Michelin’s The Alley recently announced a different issue structure for the 2017 season. Instead of race issues available for each IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, an Alley issue will be produced for each of the five Michelin GTLM class technical partners. Visit the Michelin Alley Blog for news, stories, and insight into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and other motorsports.
***Continental Tire has over 2100 tires, both wet and dry, on site for the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona and Continental Tire Challenge series teams.
John Dagys contributed to this report.