***Both of the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s feature new liveries this weekend, with the No. 93 entry sporting an all-black scheme (pictured above) and the No. 86 car in a copper-and-black design, reminiscent of the team’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca winning Ligier JS P2 Honda from last year.
***The No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM of John Edwards and Martyn Tomczyk also has a new black livery this weekend.
***With a 26-point lead in the Prototype championship, Ricky and Jordan Taylor could lock up the title this weekend. A finish of seventh place or better on Sunday would clinch the driver and team titles for the Taylor brothers, provided they take the green flag to start the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. A total of eight Prototype entries are entered for this weekend.
***Mazda Team Joest, which has yet to announce its 2018 driver lineup, tested Rene Rast on Tuesday during the shakedown of its Mazda RT24-P at Hockenheim. It’s unclear if the ex-Audi LMP1 driver, who has previous race experience with the Joest squad, could be in line for a full-time drive next year, particularly with his DTM commitments with Audi.
***Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito also took part in the single-day test, which was used to provide a baseline for the Multimatic-built chassis prior to rolling out with significant updates for 2018.
***CORE autosport’s announcement on Thursday that it will step up to the Prototype class gives further momentum to IMSA’s top category, with at least 13 full-season entries confirmed for next year. Team manager Morgan Brady told Sportscar365 they’ve yet to get a firm date of delivery for its Oreca 07 Gibson.
***Brady indicated the team will bring in two other pro drivers to join Colin Braun and team owner/driver Jon Bennett for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, in a bid for the overall win. An attempt at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, meanwhile, has been ruled out, with the team’s sole focus set to be on the WeatherTech Championship.
***Ford is unlikely to make customer cars available for next year should it elect not to opt for an Evo package to the Ford GT, according to Raj Nair. Nair, the Executive Vice President of Ford North America, said a decision for an update package has not yet been made. “The guys are still debating it,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s one of the things that are on the table.”
***Nair admitted there’s not much motivation to roll out with performance updates, due to BoP. “With the way the BoP is right now, to make the car faster we’re just going to be slowed down more,” he said. “The guys were telling me at Mexico that we were at 375 horsepower. The road car is 650 hp. Upgrades for reliability and some aspects of drivability would make sense but upgrades for pure speed, we would just be BoPed out of.”
***Tim Keene, who as revealed by Sportscar365, left Michael Shank Racing for Action Express Racing last month, is understood to be taking up an engineering position within the team for next year. The former Chip Ganassi Racing team manager has been tipped to replace Simon Dowson as lead engineer for the No. 31 Cadillac.
***Tequila Patron ESM has yet to decide on its GT3 program for next year, with Ed Brown still recovering from back surgery and having been unable to test any cars. “Ed’s just getting over a herniated disc, so he’s been way behind with a chance to get into any car. Time will tell here soon,” team owner Scott Sharp told Sportscar365.
***Sharp ruled out taking part in next month’s California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which had been under consideration prior to Brown’s back issues. “I think once we get out of Petit [Le Mans] and we can start to work on next year’s program and he feels fit and ready for driving, we can start honing in on what’s the best options are for him,” he added.
***Johannes van Overbeek and nearly a dozen members of the IMSA paddock made an 80-mile journey from San Jose to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by bicycle. It marked the 10th year van Overbeek completed the pre-event ride. “It’s just a beautiful mix of everything that’s great about the outdoors of California,” he said. “There’s the Redwood Forest, there’s some stereotypical dry hills and oak trees, and then at the end, the bike trail by the ocean and the beach.”
***Onroak Automotive will offer a prize package to Ligier teams competing in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series next year. Ligier competitors finishing in the top five of the championship will take part in a end-of-year test session in a Ligier JS P217 Gibson, with the winner getting hot pit, paddock and hospitality passes to the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***Mazda Raceway is one of three tracks that Corvette Racing has competed at in each year of the program’s existence dating back to 1999. Sebring and Road Atlanta are the others. The Pratt & Miller squad made its Le Mans debut in 2000.