***Could IMSA be evaluating the launch of a GT3 sprint race championship? That’s been one of the talking points in the paddock this week at Sebring. IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton said it’s been a topic of discussion from teams and manufacturers but is something they’re not actively pursuing. “We’ve had numerous inquiries from people asking if we’re headed that direction,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve got multiple platforms under the IMSA umbrella. I would say that right now we feel like we’ve got our hands full managing what we have.”
***Nine drivers (above) head into tomorrow’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring looking to extend their respective class leads in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Among them include Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon, who moves over to the No. 01 Ganassi Riley-Ford for this weekend.
***Tomorrow’s race will see an expected 43-car starting field, following the withdrawals of both the No. 18 Muehlner Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America and the No. 009 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, both of which did not turn laps in practice or qualifying. Last year’s race saw a 63-car grid.
***GB Autosport has been through a challenging weekend, with its Tully’s-sponsored Porsche 911 GT America having missed both Thursday night practice and Friday’s final practice due to engine failure. A replacement engine arrived via Porsche Motorsport North America Friday at 3 p.m. from California, less than 90 minutes before qualifying. Remarkably, the crew got the car out for Damien Faulkner to qualify an impressive 6th in GTD.
***Porsche North America’s driver lineup is expected to be confirmed on a race-by-race basis this year, due to a number of variables including Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy’s ride in the third Porsche 919 Hybrid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Six Hours of Spa-Franchcorchamps, which clashes with the TUDOR Championship round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
***A business commitment has seen Mike Hedlund return home to California today, although Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron is hopeful the Bronze-rated driver will return in time for the race. Alex Popow practiced and qualified the team’s No. 8 Oreca FLM09, with the Venezuelan in the frame to be added to the lineup.
***The DeltaWing GT race car concept, which was unveiled today, could make its race debut by the end of the year, according to company chairman and CEO Don Panoz. Brian Willis, the newly appointed VP of Engineering and Design, said the desired goal would be to have it compete as a GTE or GT3-spec car and will shortly begin discussions with sanctioning bodies.
***The initial prototype will feature a gasoline-powered four-cylinder engine, estimated to produce 340 horsepower, with a total of 20 of the aluminum-chassised production cars slated to be built by the late summer. Panoz is seeking to license the technology to an OEM.
***All of Panoz’s companies, including the Panoz road car business, Elan Technologies and the race team, has been consolidated into DeltaWing Technology Group, Inc.
***IMSA and Porsche Motorsport North America announced Friday a multi-year extension of their partnership to conduct the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama through the 2017 season. The series is the largest of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world.
***Tomy Drissi, known for having blockbuster movies on the side of his race cars, will instead again honor his father by featuring “Papa” decals on the No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 this weekend. “Like I said last year, my parents provided me with the work ethic and values that helped me get to where I am today. Featuring ‘Papa’ on the car is a small token and simply my way of acknowledging him and sharing what he’s always meant to me,” he said.