***With the Prototype Challenge class appearing at Long Beach for the first time since the ALMS/GRAND-AM merger, CORE autosport will attempt to extend an undefeated and three-race win streak the team earned from 2011 – 2013 in Saturday’s BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix.
***CORE won Long Beach in 2011 with Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez, in 2012 with Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow and in 2013 with Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, who return in the No. 54 Oreca FLM09 this weekend.
***Scott Pruett will be in action this weekend at Long Beach but not in a race. Pruett and fellow Lexus driver Roger Yasukawa will be wheeling special Lexus RC F Concept track cars in demonstration runs between on-track sessions and races.
***The RC F GT Concept bridges the gap between the street-legal RC F production car and full-bore RC F GT3 race car that Pruett will soon race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
***Michael Shank Racing is focused on this weekend’s 100-minute sprint at Long Beach while also keeping a firm eye on planning the team’s debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June in a Ligier JS P2. All three of the team’s Le Mans drivers, Jon Pew, Oswaldo Negri and Laurens Vanthoor, will test together for the first time at Monza in Italy, May 24 – 25.
“The important thing is that we have a partnership with Onroak and they are providing a car, all of the equipment and providing transportation in Italy,” Shank said. “So we bring my team, my guys and the drivers and it will be our first time in Le Mans trim, with Le Mans aero and on Dunlop tires.”
***After racing with the Turner Motorsport GTD team in the season-opening races at Daytona and Sebring, Ashley Freiberg is set for her career PC-class debut this weekend at Long Beach. Freiberg co-drives the No. 88 Popcorn Sutton/Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 with Mark Kvamme.
“I’m super excited to get my first race behind the wheel of a PC car,” Freiberg said. “I don’t have a ton of experience behind the wheel but we did go testing at Road Atlanta which was definitely a huge positive for me. I’m just excited to be here, I’ve never been to this track before for a race and I love street racing.”
***The first DPi manufacturer announcements are expected within the next 60 days, according to IMSA President and CEO Scott Atherton, who told Sportscar365 that a manufacturers meeting has been scheduled to discuss the timing of the announcements, to prevent potential overlaps.
***At least two manufacturers will be on the grid next year with DPi cars, with both Mazda, utilizing the Riley Mk. XXX LMP2 chassis and Cadillac, with Dallara’s new LMP2 car, poised to confirm factory efforts with engines and bodywork. At least five other manufacturers have been evaluating programs, but with some looking towards 2018 and beyond.
***Atherton expects a significant presence of 2017 LMP2 cars on the grid as well, which will all run the ACO-spec Gibson V8 engine. DPis will be performance balanced to the levels of the global-spec prototype, which will serve as the baseline.
John Dagys contributed to this report