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Road Atlanta Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta…

Photo: John Dagys

***The Porsche factory drivers unveiled special Coca-Cola-themed firesuits on Thursday evening to go with the throwback liveries on the Nos. 911 and 912 Porsche 911 RSRs this weekend. Both draw inspiration from the 1986 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring-winning Porsche 962 from Bob Akin Motor Racing.

***It is the third throwback livery to appear on the CORE autosport-run Porsches in the last 12 months, following the class-winning Porsche 911 GT1-98 livery from Motul Petit Le Mans last year and the Brumos Racing tribute designs used in multiple races this year.

“I’m like a little fanboy,” said GTLM points leader Laurens Vanthoor. “It’s all great memories which we are lucky enough to experience. Brumos, Mobil 1, Rothmans, the Pink Pig, now ending up with the Coca-Cola livery, for my part personally it’s been amazing experience to be a part of all that.”

***One of Nick Tandy’s Coca-Cola fire suits has been donated to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for a future charity auction. Austin Hatcher is one of two official charities of IMSA.

***There are a number of synergies between the rejuvenated partnership between Porsche and Coca-Cola. Porsche Cars North America has been Atlanta-based since 1998, while Coca-Cola has called Atlanta home since its founding in 1892.

***Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta opened in 1970 in part due to the financing of of Arthur Montgomery, Jr., then president of the Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The recently replaced tower and media center facility carried Coca-Cola branding high on its sides for decades.

***The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo will be ready for night practice following an accident for Marco Seefried in Practice 1 that resulted in left-side damage to the car. The GT Daytona class contender missed Practice 2 as a result. “We still fully intend to go out and win this race,” said team manager Mitchell Simmons.

***Felipe Nasr’s fastest lap during Practice 1 was over a second quicker than Pipo Derani’s pole position time from last year. Nasr set a 1:09.093 in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, beating Derani’s 1:10.437 in a Nissan DPi.

***A total of 30 drivers, all of whom are either Bronze and Silver-rated, are required to complete night-time laps during this evening’s practice. Click Here for the full list.

***Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan was non-committal as to when its 2020 driver lineup will be announced. “We don’t even talk about drivers until the season is complete,” Fehan told Sportscar365. “That’s been my line for 20 years and we’ll stick with that.”

***Both Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin were in attendance at the Corvette C8.R’s technical presentation on Thursday, alluding to their likely returns.

***Spirit of Daytona Racing team owner Troy Flis was spotted in the paddock on Friday, although declined to comment on possible 2020 programs he’s working to put together. It’s believed the Florida-based team, which was absent from IMSA competition this year, has options in both DPi and TCR with Mazda, although neither have been confirmed.

***PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has taken delivery of a second Oreca 07 Gibson, which has replaced its initial second chassis that went to United Autosports in the summer. Team principal Bobby Oergel told Sportscar365 that a shakedown is planned for Buttonwillow later this month with “pretty high” chances of contesting the full season with both cars in 2020. 

***Ryan Hardwick, who has been out of Paul Miller’s Lamborghini due to an ACL injury sustained from an accident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, is understood to be pursuing a return to the GTD class next year but with a different team and manufacturer.

***Lamborghini is poised to have an expanded presence of GTD entries for the Michelin Endurance Cup races next year, with four Huracan GT3 Evos currently anticipated according to Lamborghini America senior motorsport manager Chris Ward.

***Michelin has retroactively announced a contingency program for GTD, GS, TCR and LMP3 competitors, which has awarded teams with free sets of Michelin Competition tires based on fastest race lap (GTD), class leaders at the halfway point of each race (GS, TCR) and most positions gained (LMP3) starting from the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen event weekend.

***A full season Michelin contingency program for 2020 is set to be announced shortly after next month’s IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway.

***Porsche Junior Jaxon Evans is on-site coaching a driver in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge. The New Zealander was originally slated to contest the Bathurst 1000 but is instead at Road Atlanta after the prospective Supercars entry fell through.

***Land Motorsport has no immediate plans to seek clients wanting to race in the GT2 category with the new Audi R8 LMS GT2, according to team director Christian Land.

“We were thinking about something similar already last year with GT4 customers, but at the moment I would say that we push it back a bit,” Land told Sportscar365. “We need to have the focus on our GT3 program at the moment, and you need to have a completely new group of people for GT2.”

***ADT has teamed up with IMSA to create the “Gallery of Valuables” pop-up display this weekend in the fan zone that includes items such as the Bishop France Trophy, Chip Robinson’s fire suit and Ricky Taylor’s 2009 helmet visor. 

***Live coverage of Petit Le Mans will begin on network NBC on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, with NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app providing exclusive streaming coverage from 3-5:30 p.m. and NBCSN carrying the race’s final five hours beginning at 5:30 p.m.

***A cast of ten NBC Sports commentators are on-site this weekend, led by Leigh Diffey, A.J. Allmendinger, Calvin Fish, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell, who will be splitting time in the booth and at the wheel of the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.

***Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dillon Welch, Kevin Lee and Jon Beekhuis will be covering the race on pit lane.

***IMSA Radio also has an increased lineup this weekend with Diana Binks joining John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam with flag-to-flag coverage that’s also available on IMSA.tv for international viewers.

***Viewership of NBC Sports’ first season of IMSA coverage is up 35 percent compared to last year, with coverage on NBCSN averaging 195,000 viewers per race.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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