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WeatherTech Championship

Sebring Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Sebring…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Photo: Brian Cleary/

***Michael Shank Racing worked until 4 a.m. making repairs to its Ligier JS P2 Honda following John Pew’s accident in Night Practice. To make matters worse, Olivier Pla stuffed the car into the barriers in final practice after reporting brake issues. Pla later went on to score pole.

***Jan Heylen has been a late addition to the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, joining full-season drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey, as well as Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup pilot Matt McMurry.

***Forty eight of the 49 cars set times in qualifying, with the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS set to start from the rear of the field after having gearbox issues.

***Balance of Performance has become a major talking point for some competitors this weekend, with some anomalies apparent on the time sheets. The DragonSpeed Oreca 05 Nissan, with its reduced, FIA WEC-spec 40 mm air restrictor, qualified nearly three seconds off pole time, with Nic Minassian at the wheel.

***Ferrari GTLM teams have voiced displeasure over the lack of straight-line speed from the 488 GTE car. Risi Competizione technical director Rick Mayer told Sportscar365 they’re up to 8 mph down on the straights compared to last year with the normally aspirated 458.

***Toni Vilander predicts tomorrow’s race to be carnage-filled for that reason alone. “There’s not a single GTD car that we can overtake and keep behind on the straight. Where is the BoP between the classes?” Vilander told Sportscar365.

***Rain is expected to impact tomorrow’s race, with scattered thunderstorms in the forecast from the early afternoon through end of race. It comes after what’s been a dry, hot and rather humid buildup to the race. Some teams have already adjusted their driver rotations in anticipation of the weather.

***Alessandro Balzan will make his GTLM class debut in Long Beach, having been confirmed alongside Daniel Serra in the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE. Team principal Giacomo Mattini told Sportscar365 that Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi will co-drive the car in the following round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

***There’s never a dull moment at Wayne Taylor Racing. A number of fans presented Jordan Taylor with toys for his dog, Fonzie, during Friday’s autograph session. Co-driver Max Angelelli even got in with the fun. 

***Chris Reinke is here in his first official race as Head of Audi Sport customer racing, with the former Audi LMP1 boss having replaced Romolo Liebchen. The German manufacturer has yet to announce Reinke’s replacement on the FIA World Endurance Championship front.

***Honda Performance Development has a strong presence here this weekend, with VP and COO Steve Eriksen being joined by technical liaison Gil de Ferran and Nick Wirth of Wirth Research. HPD, along with other manufacturers have been in meetings with IMSA.

***The new Acura NSX GT3 is expected to be formally announced next week at the New York Auto Show. The car, built and developed by JAS Motorsport in Italy, is poised to take part in the WeatherTech Championship next year as part of a factory backed program.

***JDC Motorsports drivers Clark Toppe and Austin Versteeg won the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires races Thursday and Friday, respectively, at Sebring to extended an impressive streak. The team, based in suburban Minnesota, has won the last 20 Prototype Lites races, a streak dating back to August 2014.

***CORE autosport’s Colin Braun is writing a series of blogs for Continental Tire this year. His first blog addresses what a driver goes through during an endurance race. Read more in Colin’s Corner.

***Be sure to check out Andy Blackmore’s official Spotter Guide for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, featuring all 49 starters for tomorrow’s second round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

***Watch flag-to-flag coverage of today’s race between the FOX family of networks and The race will be on from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. on FOX Sports 1, 12-7 p.m. on FOX Sports 2, 7-10 p.m. on and 10-11 p.m. FOX Sports 2. Full radio coverage for the duration of the race will be provided on IMSA Radio.

***Unlike previous races, the race broadcast will be available only on FOX Sports Go for U.S. viewers, outside of the 7-10 p.m. time slot that will be unrestricted on The IMSA App will continue to provide in-car and IMSA Radio coverage for all. FOX Sports Go will only require FS1 authentication this weekend.

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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