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Mid-Ohio Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***The entry list for this weekend’s Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio has dropped to 31 entries from the initial 34-car list released last week. Among the teams not present include the previously confirmed withdrawal of NTE Sport’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, along with no-shows from Forty7 Motorsports (LMP3) and Alegra Motorsports (GTD). 

***Alegra is “regrouping” following last month’s round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca according to a Mercedes-AMG spokesperson. The team had initially announced a Michelin Endurance Cup-only campaign this year but added WeatherTech Sprint Cup events following the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

***In an unrelated development, team owner Carlos de Quesada underwent successful open heart surgery on Monday at Cleveland Clinic. De Quesada was not present at Laguna Seca.

***In addition to Will Stevens being confirmed in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson in place of the European Le Mans Series-bound Louis Deletraz, Gabby Chaves has rejoined Andretti Autosport’s lineup in place of Josh Burdon, who will concentrate on the remaining Endurance Cup races with the team.

***Jordan Pepper makes his first Sprint Cup start with Inception Racing, filling in for Frederik Schandorff, who like Deletraz is also in action at Imola this weekend. There are two additional ELMS/WeatherTech Championship date clashes this year during the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Virginia International Raceway weekends that will impact GTD class competitors like Inception.

***Juan Pablo Montoya is pulling double duty this weekend between Mid-Ohio and Saturday’s NTT IndyCar Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The Colombian is slated to get his first laps of the weekend in the No. 81 DragonSpeed Oreca LMP2 entry during Sunday’s warmup, leaving Bronze-rated Henrik Hedman as the solo driver on Friday and Saturday.

***Team principal Elton Julian explained to IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam that they didn’t want to split Montoya and Hedman on points, which would have been the case if the team brought in a substitute driver for the weekend. “IMSA’s been gracious to work with us given our situation,” Julian said.

***Winward Racing is utilizing its Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo chassis this weekend following Russell Ward’s heavy accident at Laguna Seca. Sportscar365 understands the team will skip next weekend’s SRO America event at NOLA Motorsports Park as a result.

***A new Mercedes-AMG chassis has been ordered by the team and is expected to be in action for the next round at Detroit.

***Several changes to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course have occurred since last year’s race, including the removal of the pedestrian bridge in Turns 9/10 that had been used as a reference point for drivers. There are also new patches of concrete in several corners of the 2.258-mile circuit. 

***Turner Motorsport is running its traditional yellow and blue livery on the BMW M4 GT3 for the first time, after opening the season in full Liqui-Moly colors. 

***Oliver Jarvis, who teamed with Tom Blomqvist for a runner-up finish at Laguna Seca, said Blomqvist was “extremely disappointed” post-race but quickly got over the feeling of defeat. “When you have a quick car and take the lead like he did, and then to lose it through traffic is ever so frustrating,” Jarvis said. “He managed to relax on the way back to the airport and realize it was still a good weekend for us.”

***Meyer Shank Racing’s Jarvis and Blomqvist are among the many drivers coming off races in Europe last weekend. Jarvis was one of nearly a dozen IMSA pilots to take part in the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps, while Blomqvist as well as The Heart of Racing’s Maxime Martin competed in the opening round of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup on the streets of Pau in France.

***Several others, including Pepper and Richard Westbrook, meanwhile, were at the Nürburgring for the twin qualifier races ahead of the 24-hour enduro later this month.

***GTD points leader Jan Heylen returned to Spa for the first time in 15 years, at the wheel of a Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 alongside Fred Poordad and Patrick Lindsey. The Belgian native, who now lives in Florida, said: “On a personal note it was really nice to be back in Belgium after all those years. There were a lot of people at the track that wanted to see me.”

***Tower Motorsport still plans to complete private testing at Watkins Glen International and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta this year despite supply chain issues leading to a shortage of Michelin tires. Team manager Ricky Capone told Sportscar365 that the shortage has had “minimal” effects on them, with Tower currently working with other prototype teams to acquire unused tires.

***Two other team owners also downplayed the tire shortage to Sportscar365, which is believed to be impacting GTD Pro, GTD, Michelin Pilot Challenge and IPC teams the most, with the off-the-shelf Pilot Sport S9M compound in higher demand due to number of customers across North America.

***Despite not racing this weekend due the GTD Pro class not being in action, Lexus factory driver Ben Barnicoat is on-site to help support the pair of Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3s, including his co-driver Jack Hawksworth, who is paired with Richard Heistand in the new No. 17 GTD entry.

***Barnicoat is scheduled to drive hot laps for Lexus guests during pre-race festivities as well.

***Lexus North America motorsports manager Jeff Bal said a decision on whether the second GTD entry will be at Detroit hasn’t been made yet. “Because that’s GTD, it will be up to Jimmy and Sulli,” Bal told Sportscar365. “We’ll support it if they want to run it. We’ve had the discussion. There’s a lot of moving pieces around there.”

***Corvette Racing has essentially ruled out its second Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD entry returning for any remaining WeatherTech Championship races this year according to GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop-Klauser, who also confirmed to Sportscar365 no plans for a second WEC entry beyond its confirmed two-car lineup at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Porsche announced Friday that it will supply customer Formula E cars to Andretti Autosport beginning in 2023, fueling rumors that the partnership could extend to Porsche LMDh machinery beginning next year. Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach told Sportscar365 that it will allocate a maximum of four customer cars for 2023.

***Longtime Porsche entrant Proton Competition is known to be one of the teams looking to take on a Porsche LMDh customer program, likely earmarked for the WEC. Porsche is set to be the only LMDh manufacturer to make cars available to customers in the first year of the formula.

***IMSA President John Doonan attended last weekend’s Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix as the one of many industry executives to take in F1’s first visit to Miami. The USAC-sanctioned Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama served as a support race, which featured several IMSA drivers and teams.

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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