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Long Beach Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams dealt with record temperatures on the opening day of track action at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Ambient temperatures soared to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) during the second practice session, with track temperatures nearly to 105 degrees according to Michelin.

***Forecasts call for considerably cooler weather for tomorrow’s 100-minute race with a high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) at race time.

***Sebastien Bourdais’ pole-winning lap of 1:09.472 in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R was a considerable 1.860 seconds quicker than the previous track record, held by Helio Castroneves from 2019. The track has seen some minor changes to the wall placements, which is understood to have contributed to some of the speed increase.

***The No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, which suffered an accident in the second practice session, returned to action to qualify fifth in GTD in the hands of Russell Ward. The car sustained left-front damage in the incident, which did not result in a red flag.

***WeatherTech Racing’s Mercedes is the same chassis that claimed GTD class victory — in non-Evo specification — at Long Beach in 2017 with Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette.

***MacNeil downplayed what Sportscar365 understands was a request made to IMSA to retroactively award MacNeil driver points from the No. 97 Mercedes in the opening two races of the season. MacNeil, who pulled double duty between both cars, was nominated to score points in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R in those races.

“It was up to IMSA,” MacNeil said. “It was what they wanted to do. They did what they felt was within the rules and what they could. I’m just happy to get some points instead of starting from zero here at Long Beach.”

***Julien Andlauer, who was scheduled to partner MacNeil for the team’s full-season Porsche GTD Pro effort, meanwhile, has been confirmed as the team’s pro driver for its GTE-Am effort in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Proton set to hold a shootout later this month to determine the Bronze-rated driver.

***Sportscar365 understands that Memo Gidley, who tested a Proton Porsche 911 RSR-19 at Sebring last month, is among the drivers in contention, along with Terry Borcheller and several others.

***GMG Racing’s GTD class Porsche, driven this weekend by Kyle Washington and team owner James Sofronas, is sporting a new blue and yellow livery that is being left “up to interpretation” according to the team’s race logistics manager Joe Foster, who cited that Michelin and the Los Angeles Chargers NFL team both also share the same colors as the flag of Ukraine.

***Plans for IMSA’s return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park are “full speed ahead as scheduled” according to series president John Doonan, who told Sportscar365 that the sanctioning body is working on a memo to competitors that will confirm details of the July 1-3 event.

***It will mark the first WeatherTech Championship race at CTMP in three years following the cancelation of the races in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel-related restrictions.

***While being eligible in the FIA World Endurance Championship later this year, LMDh cars are not expected to compete in the WeatherTech Championship in 2022 according to Doonan, who told Sportscar365 that it hasn’t received any requests from OEMs wanting to race before the end of this season.

“I think our intent would be to put all of the spotlight on the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona,” said Doonan. “The teams that are ready have that option to run in the top category in WEC but from an IMSA standpoint our eyes are focused on Daytona 2023.”

***IMSA has two sanctioned tests for LMDh machinery scheduled for Oct. 3-5 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta following the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, and Dec. 6-7 at Daytona International Speedway, the latter which is mandatory for all manufacturers wanting to compete in the 2023 Rolex 24.

***Doonan said IMSA is still “constantly talking” with officials from Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as other “select group of venues” on the possible inclusion on the schedule in 2023 and beyond.

***He indicated that any new potential venue would likely come as a replacement and not an addition to the calendar. A fifth Michelin Endurance Cup round, meanwhile, is not a possibility “at the moment” according to Doonan.

“We would have to try and be sensible,” he said. “There’s no idea of additional events because teams have built budgets and have got approval for programs based on a certain number of events. Not only the sheer number but the length of races and things like that [too].”

***IMSA will get a “taste test” of Ozarks International Raceway next month with Lamborghini Super Trofeo running as part of the SRO America event. Doonan said that Paul Walter, IMSA’s senior director of race operations, has completed a site visit. 

***Lamborghini is currently not planning to support a GTD Pro entry in the next two Endurance Cup rounds according to the manufacturer’s head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna. Lamborghini Squadra Corse assisted TR3 Racing for its entries in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, where it finished second in class.

***Asked about the possibility of further GTD Pro outings, Sanna, who is not at Long Beach, told Sportscar365: “At the moment, it’s not planned because we are spread everywhere and unfortunately we don’t work with unlimited capabilities. We will see in the next few months if there will be the chance to do something more.”

***BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos says it’s “too early” to discuss the possibility of another team replacing Team RLL in GTD Pro next year when Rahal moves to the new GTP class with its two-car BMW M LMDh factory effort.

“For sure it would be nice to have some cars in GTD Pro,” Roos told Sportscar365. “We will investigate it. We also have teams [currently in GTD] like Paul Miller Racing and Turner Motorsport. We have to investigate if there are possibilities coming up.”

***Jackie Chan DC Racing team co-owner David Cheng, who announced last month a full-time WeatherTech Championship program for 2023, was spotted in the paddock as well as Jaden Conwright, who was due to share driving duties of NTE Sport’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Corey Lewis prior to a tire blowout on the team’s transporter en route to California.

***USA Network will carry live coverage of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. ET led by Leigh Diffey and Calvin Fish in the booth and Marty Snider and Dave Burns on pit lane. Coverage will also be available on IMSA Radio and for international viewers with John Hindhaugh and Jeremy Shaw.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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