***3GT Racing has shaken up its driver pairings this weekend, with Robert Alon moved to the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 alongside Sage Karam and Scott Pruett in the No. 15 car with Jack Hawksworth. According to technical director John Gentilozzi, the change is currently just for Road America. “We really feel that by making these changes we will get a fresh look at everything,” he said.
***Friday’s annual “State of the Sport” presentation confirmed the 2018 schedules for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, as well as a number of nuggets from IMSA President Scott Atherton.
***Considerations are being made to provide increased recognition for teams in qualifying, potentially in awarding bonus points, while Atherton said they are also looking at adding “new elements” into the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
***Long Beach reverts to a two-class race, with the elimination of the GT Daytona category cars after debuting this year. It’s understood the change was largely made due to track and paddock capacity, along with the expectation of an increased number of Prototype entries for 2018.
***The date for Long Beach has been moved back one week, due to Easter, with the Pebble Beach Concours affecting the date for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which has been moved two weeks earlier than this year’s race. IMSA, meanwhile has signed a contract extension with MRLS through 2020.
***While the Prototype class is locked in through the 2020 season, a new homologation period is set to begin for both GTE-spec cars in GT Le Mans and GT3 machinery in GT Daytona in 2019. It’s understood little to no change are expected to be made to the regulations, which are governed by the FIA.
***Atherton said they are at “Fourth and Goal” on releasing the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda schedule, and said they are looking to make “material changes” to the series, rumored to be longer races that could also include pit stops and driver changes.
***Road Atlanta, Daytona and Sebring are set to undergo facility improvements in the coming months, with the pavement of vendor villages and a new pedestrian walkway in the Daytona infield. A total of 14 automotive partners had displays in the Daytona paddock in January.
***Atherton said efforts have again been made to eliminate potential date clashes with Pirelli World Challenge for next year. “[WC Vision President] Greg Gill has seen a copy of our calendar confidentially,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve not seen theirs yet but that’s okay, they are still probably under development. But the goal is always to avoid any direct conflict. We do the same thing with the ACO or the WEC.”
***Lone Star Racing returns to GT Daytona class action this weekend for the first time since Circuit of The Americas in May, with the Dan Knox and Mike Skeen-driven Mercedes-AMG GT3 confirmed for the next three rounds.
***The team is coming off a test at Virginia International Raceway two weeks ago. “We were able to get tuned up for the next stretch of races scheduled,” said team manager A.J. Petersen. “It is always tough jumping in the middle of the season and racing with teams that have been running the entire year.”
***Lone Star’s entry keeps three Mercedes on the grid this weekend, despite WeatherTech Racing switching to a Porsche 911 GT3 R. The two Riley-run entries are separated and on opposite ends of the paddock. “They’re two great companies, Porsche and AMG,” Bill Riley told Sportscar365. “We’re doing our best to make sure that everything stays private to both cars and when we do what the manufacturers suggest on both cars we both run that line.”
***Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner is attending his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race since the German squad was named Mazda’s new factory partner. Juttner will be joined by Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan for a media availability Saturday afternoon.
***Jeff Segal is set to make his 100th GT start this weekend. The two-time Rolex Series champion, who made his GT debut in 2003, has 81 Grand-Am starts, two in ALMS and 16 in WeatherTech Championship competition. The Michael Shank Racing Acura driver has amassed 12 class wins and 28 podiums.
***Road America marks the final race for Jens Walther as President of Porsche Motorsport North America, with Dr. Daniel Armbruster set to take the helm of the company later this month. Armbruster, who was in charge of development of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, is on-site this weekend.
***A total of 31 Porsche Motorsport-built race cars are in action this weekend across three series. Included is a triple-header for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, which makes up Race 2 from Watkins Glen, which was canceled due to a massive early race pileup.
***The annual benefit auction for Camp Anokijig is set for 11:15 a.m. CT on Saturday in the Road America Corvette Corral. It helps raise funds for the local camp – which is Native American for “We Serve” – where Corvette Racing Crew Chief Dan Binks is both a board member and former camper. Binks has organized the auction for nearly 10 years.
***Approximately 40 racing-related items will be up for auction including Corvette Racing parts and items, including one of the front wheels from the No. 63 Corvette C7.R at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, photographs and paintings. Last year’s auction raised more than $26,000 for the camp, which opened in 1926.
***VP Racing Fuels has signed long-term extension as the official fuel supplier for all IMSA-sanctioned series, including the WeatherTech Championship, Continental Tire Challenge, Prototype Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
***BUBBA burger recently confirmed a three-year extension with IMSA, making it the Official Burger of the WeatherTech Championship through at least the 2020 season.
***Continental has rolled out an August promotion where customers purchasing four passenger or light truck tires will receive a $70 Visa prepaid card. The offer ends Aug. 31. Click Here for more details.