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Road America Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Road America…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***IMSA’s move to a three-class format for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018 will not include a separate podium for Pro-Am class competitors in the Prototype class. Series President Scott Atherton told Sportscar365 that the top Am driver in the class will be recognized on the podium if there’s a “registered group” of Trueman drivers.

***Rumors of a Pro-Am prototype subclass, featuring the global Gibson-engined LMP2 cars, did not materialize. Atherton said the Trueman drivers can come from both DPi or LMP2 machinery in the P class.

***The Trueman winner in Prototype and Akin winner in the GT Daytona class will each receive automatic invites to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as was the case last year with Michael Shank Racing (John Pew) and Scuderia Corsa (Bill Sweedler).

***The new-for-2017 Prototype class regulations will be locked in through the end of the 2020 season, with GTLM and GTD confirmed through its current three-year homologation period of 2018. Atherton said there’s no indication of changes beyond then, but said they are leaving the door open for possible GT convergence, as talks have resumed.

***Onroak Automotive North American representative Ethan Bregman told Sportscar365 that the French constructor is confident of having multiple Ligier JS P217 cars on the grid in the WeatherTech Championship next year, which could be a combination of P2 and DPi machinery.

***Bregman said they expect to debut an Onroak support truck at Petit Le Mans in October, while currently finalizing the location of its U.S. workshop, between ether Charlotte or Indianapolis. A final decision is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

***Onroak is also planning to offer evaluation tests with its Ligier JS P3 to prospective U.S. customers later this year, although dates have not yet been finalized. “Certainly we want to have an environment where potential drivers can drive the car because every single time one of them has driven the car, they’ve bought it on the spot,” Bregman told Sportscar365.

***A total of 50 Ligier JS P3s have already been sold to customers worldwide, including six in the U.S. The most recent chassis, delivered to a customer in Florida, was the car on hand during today’s announcement.

***It’s understood IMSA has placed the tire contract for the 2017 Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda as a request for proposal (RFP). Cooper Tires has served as the exclusive tire supplier for the series through this year.

***Long Beach will feature GTD cars for the first time, thanks to a re-arranging of the paddock space, as well as the elimination of the PC class, which was added to the event this year. The Lime Rock race will also see the elimination of the PC cars, making it GT-only.

***There are currently no date conflicts between the 2017 WeatherTech Championship and Pirelli World Challenge schedules, although PWC has still yet to confirm the dates for two of its events. The final 2017 PWC schedule is expected to be released next month at Sonoma.

***IMSA confirmed the dates for 2017 pre-season tests at Daytona. A two-day test for all WeatherTech Championship classes is scheduled for Nov. 15-16, while Prototype, GTLM and GTD classes will take part in an additional test at Daytona on Dec. 13-14. The November test will mark the public debuts of the new-for-2017 DPi machinery.

***The annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 is set for Jan. 6-8, with an IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring confirmed for Feb. 23-24.

***The No. 3 Corvette C7.R underwent an engine change between practice sessions today, after an electrical issued hampered the Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia-driven GTLM entry in opening practice. Garcia recorded the seventh quickest time in class in Practice 2 with the new powerplant.

***In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the DeltaWing, Sean Rayhall is also taking to the dirt this weekend, as he’s set to race in Saturday evening’s Midwest Sprint Car Association event at Sheboygan County Fairgrounds. Rayhall shook down his 360 Sprint Car at 141 Speedway, a quarter-mile clay oval in Francis Creek, Wis, on Thursday.

***Following its successful public rollout at Mid-Ohio during last weekend’s PWC round, the Acura NSX GT3 is set to continue its testing and development program next week at an undisclosed location. No definitive timeline has been revealed on further announcements regarding the manufacturer’s 2017 programs.

***The scholarship program for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama has a new name, with the Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship. The award, backed by Porsche Motorsport North America, IMSA and Yokohama, is given annually to an up-and-coming driver, between the age of 18-22, who has no prior Porsche Cup experience.

***The Alley, Michelin’s popular trackside publication, has published its 100th issue this weekend. Audi’s Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello were the first drivers to be featured on the cover in 2007, with countless drivers, teams and sports car racing personalities having been featured in the ten years since. Click Here to read the 100th issue.

***October’s Petit Le Mans has a new presenting sponsor. The 19th annual Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is set for Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

***The annual Tour De Road America took place Friday evening, with hundreds of bikers taking to the four-mile circuit to raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation, one of IMSA’s official charities.

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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