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Sebring Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook on the eve of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring…

Photo: John Dagys

***Both Mazda RT24-Ps will start from the rear of the Prototype field in tomorrow’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after the cars were found to be out of technical compliance in qualifying. According to IMSA, the DPis were found to have “comprehensively taped all bodywork seams” as well as the tow hook.

***The No. 77 Mazda DPi had qualified seventh with Rene Rast, while the No. 55 car 11th in the hands of Jonathan Bomarito. “Despite being moved to the back, we’ve enjoyed a great weekend so far,” said Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan, in reference to its 1-2 run in Thursday’s night practice.

***The No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, which has underwent an engine change following qualifying, will also start from the back of the P class field as a result. “Unfortunately in this morning’s final practice session, it was evident we’d lost our top-speed overnight. There wasn’t enough time to change the engine before qualifying,” said Paul Di Resta.

***Michael Shank Racing continued the rebuild process of its No. 93 Acura NSX GT3, although missed both final practice and qualifying. It is still expected to return to action in time for tomorrow morning’s warmup. A batch of spare parts, including a frame component, arrived at the track on Friday morning.

***As a result of not setting a qualifying time, the No. 93 Acura will roll off from dead last on the grid. Click Here for the provisional grid.

***Engine issues have struck two of the Cadillac DPi-V.R teams this week, including the pole-sitting Spirit of Daytona entry, which along with the No. 31 Action Express Racing, completed a precautionary change on Thursday for “data anomalies” according to a Cadillac spokesperson.

***Both of the Action Express Cadillacs battled overheating issues in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, in the debut of the revised 5.5-liter V8 powerplant. 

***Pole-sitter Tristan Vautier, however, said that the pre-race concerns won’t change their focus in the race. “We know the Cadillac guys are on it but obviously when you have to change the engine on the first day of practice, you cannot be as serine as you are when nothing happens,” he told Sportscar365. “But we think, at least what’s going on, so we know where to look.”

***The No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS also underwent a complete powertrain replacement overnight prior to Friday’s track action.

***Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais arrived Thursday night in time for night practice after completing an IndyCar test session at Texas Motor Speedway. Richard Westbrook was left with solo driving duties of the No. 67 Ford GT for the majority of the day, due to an illness for Ryan Briscoe that kept the Australian out of the cockpit.

***Briscoe, however, turned 12 laps in final practice on Friday morning and is expected to race tomorrow alongside Westbrook and Dixon in the Rolex 24 at Daytona class-winning entry.

***AJ Foyt, who was to be the event’s Grand Marshal, has been forced to call off his trip to Sebring after being admitted to a hospital due a killer bee attack on his Texas ranch. It was the second time the legendary owner/driver had been attacked by bees.

***Foyt, along with Dindo Capello, Paul Newman, Joest Racing and Sebring Firemen, Inc. were inducted into Sebring’s Hall of Fame Friday evening during a dinner at the Chateau Elan.

***AIM Autosport has laid out the groundwork for a foray into IMSA Prototype or GT Le Mans competition by as early as next year, according to former Mazda marketing executive Jim Bowie, who has joined the Canadian organization as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

***Bowie, who confirmed the team will forgo a Pirelli World Challenge effort this year, told Sportscar365 that he’s begun discussions with prospective OEMs and top-level automotive partners for a targeted 2019 program. AIM team principals Ian and Keith Willis are working with JDC-Miller Motorsports this year.

***Acura has already fulfilled the FIA’s newly mandated 20-car GT3 production minimum, with the Japanese manufacturer having recently completed the build of its latest batch of customer cars, according to a HPD spokesperson.

***The FIA has mandated that each GT3 manufacturer must produce at least ten cars in the first year of the car’s homologation and 20 total units within 24 months. 

***Michelin has undergone a re-branding and redesign of its motorsports web platforms, with the launch of The Alley newsletter, meanwhile, has also been re-named to Michelin Racing USA, with Corvette Racing featured in the first Special Issue for 2018. Click Here to download and view the latest issue.

***The tire manufacturer is also hosting a number of social media “influencers” this weekend, as part of its ramped up commitment to IMSA ahead of its new Official Tire partnership in 2019.

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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