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Road Atlanta Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ notebook from Road Atlanta, following opening Petit Le Mans practice sessions…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***All of the drivers vying for class titles in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup assembled Thursday morning for a group photo on the podium at Road Atlanta. Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans will mark the final leg of the four-round cup and final race with title sponsorship from Tequila Patron, which will become the Michelin Endurance Cup next year.

***Ryan Dalziel is sporting a special helmet this weekend, in tribute to Tequila Patron, Ed Brown, and Brown and his wife Ashley’s Selfless Love Foundation. The green, black and silver helmet will be raffled off, with all proceeds going to the charity.

 “I wanted to honor Ed Brown and Tequila Patrón’s massive contribution to not just myself, but the sports car community over the years,” said Dalziel. “What Ed and Patrón have done will probably never be repeated in terms of duration and financial contributions. My five seasons at Tequila Patrón ESM have been some of my most special memories and I wanted to show Ed just how much his loyalty has meant to me.”

***Extreme Speed Motorsports’ involvement in the Prototype class next year remains unclear, with team owner Scott Sharp still working on several possible options. Both Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek, however, will not be back, with Derani moving to Action Express and van Overbeek retiring from full-time competition following Saturday’s race.

***Risi Competizione has undergone a management shakeup since its last IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Sebring, with Scott Gresham assuming the role as team manager this weekend.

***Longtime Risi Competizione team manager Dave “Beaky” Sims is on-site this weekend as a guest of the Houston-based team. Sims told Sportscar365 that work on his autobiography, which will chronicle his illustrious career beginning in Formula 1 from the 1960s, is nearly complete and is due out early next year.

***A total of 31 drivers, all Bronze or Silver-rated, will be required to complete night-time laps in this evening’s night practice session. Click Here for the full list. 

***The No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi.V-R is a replacement chassis following Joao Barbosa’s heavy start-line accident at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last month. Filipe Albuquerque told Sportscar365 that the team built up the car in less than a week and completed its scheduled test at Road Atlanta on Sept. 17-18.

***Movement on Juncos Racing’s Cadillac DPi lineup for next year is being made, with former TC2000 champion and GM Argentina factory driver Agustín Canapino recently testing in Dallara’s Cadillac simulator and Juncos’ Indy Lights driver Victor Franzoni spotted in the paddock this weekend.

***Former Indy Lights driver Neil Alberico has also been making the rounds at Road Atlanta, with Derrick Walker, who ran Team Falken Tire’s GTLM effort, seen in discussions with team representatives and manufacturers.

***NBC Sports, which takes over as the TV partner for IMSA, also has representatives on site this weekend with coordinating producer Rich O’Conner and Leigh Diffey, who is expected to be named the lead anchor for WeatherTech Championship races.

***Plans for Alex Zanardi to make his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut in one of BMW’s M8 GTEs is progressing, according to motorsports director Jens Marquardt. “Clearly, our aim is to have him run in Daytona,” Marquardt told Sportscar365. “We’re working on everything and talking to IMSA. There is a lot of work going into that. We’re fully focused and we will be talking about it when the time is right.”

***It’s unclear if the Italian, who lost both his legs in a CART accident in 2001, will be in an additional BMW GTLM entry or placed in one of the two full-season cars.

***A seat could become available should Alexander Sims continue either as a full-time or Michelin Endurance Cup driver, as the recently signed BMW Formula E driver will be forced to miss Daytona to a clashing round in Santiago. 

***This weekend sees an unprecedented three-way clash between major sports car racing/touring car events, with the Six Hours of Fuji FIA World Endurance Championship race and DTM season finale at Hockenheim causing drivers and manufacturer executives spread across the globe.

***Mike Conway, Nico Lapierre, Olivier Pla, Harry Tincknell, Gianmaria Bruni, Nicky Catsburg, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey, who were all scheduled to be at Road Atlanta, are in Fuji instead due to the WEC’s date change for this year’s event, with Renger van der Zande missing the Japanese round to fulfill his full-season commitments with Wayne Taylor Racing.

****Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser and Pascal Zurlinden, the director of GT factory motorsport, have both elected to be at Road Atlanta this weekend, along with Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook. BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt, meanwhile, has opted to be in Hockenheim.

***Following Saturday’s race, Rushbrook will be heading to Talladega for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

***Pfaff Motorsports has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning, in what’s expected to be the latest team to join the IMSA paddock. The Canadian squad fielded a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Scott Hargrove in Pirelli World Challenge this year.

***Other press conferences scheduled for Friday include announcements from Meyer Shank Racing, Acura and Road Atlanta.

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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