***IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series manager Geoff Carter told Sportscar365 that older spec GT3 cars, i.e. the previous generation Audi R8 LMS, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, BMW Z4 GT3, Porsche 997 GT3 R and so on and so forth, are expected to be eligible to compete at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, provided the manufacturers are IMSA official Automotive Partners.
***That would leave Mercedes, which sees Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed team test its Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s today, potentially in a bind if it does not enter into the partnership. The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 (pictured above) has been ruled out of a Rolex 24 debut.
***On a similar note, Carter said talks are continuing between IMSA and TRG-AMR regarding the continued participation of that team’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 into 2016. Kevin Buckler’s team has run the car for Black Swan Racing’s Tim Pappas and Nick Catsburg this week, with BSR having one of its crewmembers here. A number of Aston Martin personnel are on site here as well.
***Stevenson Motorsports team manager Mike Johnson has arrived to Daytona this afternoon. The team expects to have the lineup for its two-car Audi R8 LMS program revealed in early December.
***It’s understood Risi Competizione, which like all other Ferrari teams isn’t present this week at Daytona, is yet to confirm its full 2016 program and is yet to order the new Ferrari 488 GTE. Risi was in the process of finalizing its program with the new car as far back as August.
***Kinetic Motorsports’ Russell Smith is on site here in Daytona this week, as Kia explores potential options in the WeatherTech GTD or Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS classes for down the road. It’s believed Kia is re-evaluating whether it will continue into Pirelli World Challenge into 2016, and Kia has past GRAND-AM experience several years ago in the Continental Tire Challenge.
***Cars are running with a decal of both the French and U.S. flags this week, again paying tribute to the tragic events last week in Paris.
***Ricky Taylor was the only one of the two Taylor brothers to test the Corvette C7.R this week, with Jordan also here but not turning any laps.
***It’s believed Filipe Albuquerque will become Action Express Racing’s third driver of its No. 5 Corvette DP for three of the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans. The Portuguese driver tests this week.
***Jack Hawksworth, who tested Tuesday and has since departed for Las Vegas for a karting event, not only tested but is set to join the team’s Rolex 24 lineup alongside Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow and Chris Cumming in the team’s lead PC entry, per team principal Peter Baron. The team is also working on a second PC car, but has no plans at this time to bring back the team’s Daytona Prototype for the Rolex 24.
***IMSA’s Technical Director position has been listed via the nascar.com/careers website. Scott Raymond currently serves in that role.
***Add Justin Marks, Guy Cosmo, Alessandro Balzan and Jan Heylen to the ever-expanding “we’re here and looking for rides” list of drivers making the rounds at Daytona. Additionally, add Mike Skeen to those also wishing to have a seat somewhere in IMSA next year; the red-haired rocket (or “Ginger Stig”) was in Daytona for the HSR Classic 24 over the weekend, but was unable to stick around for the two-day test itself.
***Daytona International Speedway is busier than normal this week with continued construction and renovation projects, not just the completion of the Daytona Rising new grandstand complex. The infield has a variety of cranes and construction items present, and teams are using what is ordinarily the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge garage to house their cars rather than the traditional WeatherTech Championship garage.
***Jeff Hanson, who is the legally blind NF Hero and philanthropic artist who created the three paintings used in both 2014 and 2015 on the Compass360 Racing Hondas and Subaru in 2014 plus the Park Place Motorsports Porsche in 2014, has been nominated as one of four finalists for the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The nomination link is here, and the BJFHA nomination guarantees a $25,000 donation to Children’s Tumor Foundation; the final winner is decided by online fan vote at this link.