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WeatherTech Championship

Long Beach Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship notebook from Long Beach…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach pole-sitter Pipo Derani said he wasn’t worried that his brush with the tire barriers in Turn 8 following his flying lap would have brought out a red flag, which would have erased his pole-winning time per IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sporting regulations.

***Derani told Sportscar365: “Honestly no because I went really quick to get reverse and get going. Funny enough, we spoke about that during the track walk they asked me, ‘Do you know how to get reverse?’ It was a quick test and I replied and they were like, ‘OK, good.’ It’s funny how things work. I was straight on, reverse, gone, so I don’t think there would have been time for anybody to throw a red flag.”

***The Brazilian’s No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R only sustained nose damage in the incident. It marked Derani’s third consecutive pole in as many WeatherTech Championship races this season.

***Parker Thompson recorded two times that would have been quick enough for GTD pole, first setting a 1:17.382 before improving to a 1:17.357 in his No. 89 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 that he’ll share with the team’s GTD Pro regular Ben Barnicoat tomorrow. Both of Thompson’s times were under the class track qualifying record.

***Thompson indicated that the No. 12 Lexus of Frankie Montecalvo and Jack Hawksworth will take priority in Saturday’s race due to it being the team’s sole full season GTD entry. “I think everybody wants the 12 to have a good race. That’s the priority, obviously, they’re in the full-time championship and that’s my full-time home so I need to ensure they have a good race too. I’m sure we’ll play nice tomorrow.”

***The Action Express Cadillac is a different chassis from last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Cadillac, which saw Derani escape injury in a spectacular accident. A Cadillac spokesperson told Sportscar365 that the Sebring chassis has been sent to Dallara for scans, with the team reverting to chassis No. 5 for this weekend, which was used for the bulk of last season.

***Gradient Racing has gone to a spare Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 chassis following Katherine Legge’s race-ending accident at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, which resulted in damage to all four corners of the GTD car.

***The Andris Laivins-led operation previously purchased two of the ex-Meyer Shank Racing NSX GT3s, which were upgraded to Evo22 specification.

***A “necessary engine change” for the Gradient Acura saw it not take part in qualifying on Friday evening, with the Sheena Monk and co-driver Stevan McAleer set to start from the rear of the 27-car starting field.

***A growing number of teams are now bringing spare cars to races in the event of pre-race accidents. Wright Motorsports, for example, has its Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles in nearby Carson, Calif. this weekend. Action Express also has its Cadillac chassis from last year’s Le Mans on its truck.

***Jarett Andretti is making his first Long Beach start since the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race in 2019 when he was at the wheel of the team’s McLaren 570S GT4. Andretti and co-driver Gabby Chaves currently sit sixth in the GTD drivers’ standings although are third amongst full season competitors.

***IMSA has updated the WeatherTech Championship sporting regulations that will now permit teams to test with development tires. A maximum of three sets per day will be allowed per competitor, with the tires not counted towards the season’s allocations and must be supplied free of charge from Michelin.

***It comes amid plans for Michelin to roll out with new tires for the GTP class, as well as the Hypercar category of the FIA World Endurance Championship, for next year.

***Proton Competition is understood to not yet have decided on Gianmaria Bruni’s co-driver in the No. 5 Porsche 963 for the next round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which again clashes with the FIA World Endurance Championship. Ford Performance factory driver Mike Rockenfeller, who is partnering the Italian this weekend, is unavailable due to the GTD Pro being in action at Laguna while Alessio Picariello will again be on Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS duty that weekend.

***Flying Lizard Motorsports has not ruled out additional GTD races with Elias Sabo and Andy Lee later this season according to program manager Darren Law, who confirmed to Sportscar365 that Sabo will be taking delivery of a second Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo chassis in early June, which could enable additional WeatherTech Championship outings.

***The Lizards are utilizing the same chassis this weekend that Sabo and Lee ran in the recent Fanatec GT America season-opener at Sonoma. which will return to SRO America competition for the remainder of the season beginning with next month’s round at Sebring International Raceway.

***No fewer than 13 WeatherTech Championship cars are slated to test at the recently resurfaced Laguna Seca next week, including the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R of Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais, which has done “quite a bit” sim work to prepare for the next stop on the calendar.

***Van der Zande told Sportscar365: “I’ve never tested there and it’s on the new surface. IndyCar is 3-4 seconds quicker and I heard Lamborghini Super Trofeos were 4-5 seconds quicker. To feel grip in Laguna Seca is going to be weird but I’m looking forward to that.”

***The Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles will be hosting its ‘Morning Shift’ event on Sunday morning, featuring several cars that are taking part in Saturday’s race, including the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports and No. 5 Proton Porsche 963s and No. 86 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, in an event that will also see Porsche Penske Motorsport drivers in attendance.

***JDC-Miller will be taking the opportunity to use PEC Los Angeles, the home of Porsche Motorsport North America, to prep its GTP car for Laguna Seca.

***Live coverage of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach gets underway Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PDT (4:30 p.m. EDT) on both USA Network and Peacock, led by the broadcast team of Leigh Diffey and Calvin Fish, with Marty Snider and Dillon Welch on pit lane.

***IMSA Radio’s coverage will feature the usual trio of John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam, with its commentary once again linked up with video streaming on YouTube for international viewers.

Jonathan Grace contributed to this report

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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