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Road America Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ notebook from Road America featuring ‘State of the Series’ items and more…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***IMSA held its annual ‘State of the Sport’ address Friday evening at Road America, confirming the 2023 schedules for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Michelin Pilot Challenge, the new VP Racing SportsCar Challenge as well as Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America.

***Calendars for Ferrari Challenge North America and Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires were also released, with Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands set to announce its 2023 schedule at a later date.

***Ferrari’s single-make series will kick off at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 3-5 prior to trips to Circuit of The Americas (April 21-23), Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (May 19-21), Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (June with Formula 1), Sonoma Raceway (July 21-23), Road America (Sept. 8-10) and the Finali Mondiali, with the date and venue yet to be confirmed.

***Mazda MX-5 Cup, meanwhile, will feature seven events, starting at Daytona on the Rolex 24 weekend, followed by St. Petersburg (March 3-5), Watkins Glen (June 23-25), Road America (August 4-6), Virginia International Raceway (Aug. 25-27) and Road Atlanta (Oct. 11-13), with an additional event still to-be-announced.

***IMSA President John Doonan confirmed the discontinuation of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup, which will not be contested in the 2023 WeatherTech Championship season. “This year we had only one car in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup. The market spoke,” Doonan said.

***Doonan said the race lengths for both the Pilot Challenge races at Detroit (GS) and Lime Rock Park (TCR) have not yet been determined. An active effort is underway to bring in an additional series to the Lime Rock event, joining the GT-only WeatherTech Championship race and TCR round.

***There is currently a clash between the IMSA round at VIR and SRO America event at Road America on the weekend of Aug. 25-27. It is the only direct conflict between Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS and IMSA, with the GT America powered by AWS round at Nashville again clashing with IMSA at Road America.

***LMP3 cars will continue to remain a part of the WeatherTech Championship, with a one-year extension after it initial two-year commitment that was due to expire at the end of this season. Doonan said: “We felt like given the things they’ve purchased and where they’re headed, we wanted to be respectful of that, make a commitment to keep LMP3 as we know it today in the WeatherTech Championship for 2023.”

***Doonan said they will “continue to evaluate” the class structure for 2024 and beyond, taking into account pit lane capacities and the expected increased footprint the GTP entries will bring. “Clearly 2023 is going to have a GTP field that’s going to be historic but then you add Lamborghini in 2024 and it’s going to continue to grow,” he said.

***The GTP class — with eligibility from LMDh cars and selected LMH machinery — is confirmed through the end of the 2027 season, with GTD Pro and GTD through 2026 and LMP2 and LMP3 currently confirmed through next year.

***A key element of the State of the Sport centered on IMSA’s continued sustainability alliance. For more than a decade, IMSA has enjoyed a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.

***The GTP class will adopt renewable fuels next year, with VP Racing Fuels set to roll out with a VP R80 blend. It will come in addition to the spec hybrid system for LMDh cars, which will reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent. Michelin, meanwhile, will roll out with a new tire for the class which will have the ability to double stint, leading to a possible reduction in tire usage of up to 25 percent.

***IMSA’s sanctioned GTP test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 6-7 is likely to see several new-for-2023 GT3 cars as well according to Doonan, who hinted at the recently unveiled Ferrari 296 GT3 and new Porsche 911 GT3 R. Lamborghini will roll out with an EVO2 version of its Huracan GT3 next year that will also likely need to be evaluated.

***An additional IMSA-sanctioned test, for all classes of the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge, is planned for February 2023 at Sebring International Raceway.

Friday Paddock Notes

***The No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat returned to action in the afternoon practice session following fuel pump issues halted the car’s progress in the first session. Hawksworth set the quickest time in the session, leading a sweep for the team, with the No. 12 entry of Frankie Montecalvo topping GTD.

***Barnicoat took part in a test at Road America last month following the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park round, with Hawksworth having not been cleared to drive at the time following his recovery from the Englishman’s motocross accident.

***As was the case at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen — the last five-class WeatherTech Championship race — there will be a split start between the DPi/LMP2/LMP3 and GTD Pro/GTD cars.

***Turner Motorsport has recently taken delivery of a third BMW M4 GT3, which is understood to be utilized as a backup car to its two primary cars that compete in the IMSA GTD class and Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS.

***Wayne Taylor Racing is seeking its first win at Road America, having achieved four podiums in 11 previous appearances. The four-mile Wisconsin circuit is the only active track on the WeatherTech Championship schedule the team has not won at.

***Road America is the site of BMW M Team RLL’s first pole and class victory in 2009. Two additional wins came in 2010 and 2012, along with an additional six podium finishes, making it one of the most successful tracks for the team that’s currently in its 14th season of racing with the German manufacturer.

LMDh Testing and Development Updates 

***Acura completed a three-day test with its ARX-06 at Kansas Motor Speedway last week with Ricky Taylor at the wheel. WTR’s Acura ARX-05 DPi car was also on hand but was only there to be “shaken down” according to team owner Wayne Taylor, who explained to Sportscar365 that the Kansas roval was chosen based on track availability and the ability to run at night.

***It marked the first U.S. test for Acura’s LMDh car following its rollout on the Paul Ricard airfield and a two-day test at Magny-Cours last month that amassed 300 kms on the car. “Like all the other manufacturers, there’s loads of things that we’re all looking at,” Wayne Taylor told Sportscar365. “We had a lot of people there. We learned stuff but we still have plenty more testing to go.”

***Porsche Penske Motorsport is understood to have air-freighted its Porsche 963 car back to Europe following last month’s five-day test at Sebring International Raceway in order to have a two-car validation test at Monza this week.

***While not encountering the same MGU-related issue from previous tests in Europe, it’s believed the hybrid powertrain had a sensor glitch with the latest version of the Bosch-developed electric motor. Porsche’s next U.S. test is understood to be scheduled for Daytona International Raceway in early September.

***BMW’s M Hybrid V8, which encountered undisclosed issues not related to the MGU at its extended shakedown at Varano last month, is set to undertake tests at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Motorland Aragon this month prior to arriving in the U.S. early next month.

***Group tests are scheduled between BMW, Cadillac and Acura in September prior to the first of two IMSA-sanctioned tests at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 3-5. Of note, it’s believed Porsche is not currently scheduled to be present at the post-Motul Petit Le Mans test, which unlike the early December Daytona test, isn’t mandatory for LMDh manufacturers.

***USA Network will carry live coverage of the IMSA Fastlane Sportscar Weekend, joining the race in progress on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET following a 11:40 a.m. ET (10:40 a.m. CT) start. The race start has been moved three hours forward to accommodate for the last-minute live TV opportunity.

***Brian Till will be joined by Calvin Fish in the booth for the USA Network broadcast, which will be shown live and its entirety on Peacock, with Matt Yocum and Hannah Newhouse reporting on pit lane. IMSA Radio will have its regular team of John Hindhaugh, Jeremey Shaw and Shea Adam, who are all on-site this weekend bringing radio coverage and commentary to the world feed for international viewers.


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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