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Sebring IMSA Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship notebook from Sebring…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***A heavy crash by Don Yount in Thursday’s Practice 2 has sent Precision Performance Motorsports into a race to rebuild its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in time for night practice. Team owner Richard Gdovic told Sportscar365 that no chassis damage was sustained and that Yount escaped injury in the high-speed shunt entering the hairpin.

***The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R is a new chassis following its race-ending accident at Daytona. Team manager Steve Bortolotti told Sportscar365 that the German manufacturer pulled a chassis out of production for the rebuild. “It was really just the left front suspension that was damaged, so we had most of the parts in stock,” he said.

***Pfaff will be utilizing the popular Buffalo Check livery for most of the season after it was so well received at Daytona, with sponsor-specific liveries possible for the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup races.

***Jan Magnussen is poised to break Johnny O’Connell’s record for most consecutive starts at Sebring, with the five-time class winner embarking on his 21st straight 12-hour race, a record that dates back to 1999.

***Cooper MacNeil arrived at Sebring hot on the heels of a dominant victory in the second race of the opening Ferrari Challenge North America season at Circuit of The Americas. MacNeil headed into the IMSA-sanctioned single-make series as defending champion.

***Porsche started work on its Sebring preparations in November when one of the U.S.-based Porsche 911 RSR chassis was borrowed by the Manthey operation for testing immediately after the Shanghai WEC round, which saw engineers and drivers fly directly from China.

***CORE autosport and Manthey’s dedicated performance engineers are joining in each others’ team debriefs throughout the week, with the Porsche’s No. 912 car engineer having been embedded with the WEC team during last weekend’s test.

***A total of 11 drivers are puling double duty between the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races this weekend: Harry Tincknell, Olivier Pla, Jonathan Bomarito, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller, Brendon Hartley, Renger van der Zande, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Patrick Lindsey and Gabriel Aubry.

***In addition, Gunnar Jeannette is completing the unique double between the 1000-mile WEC race and the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge round, which will both be held on Friday.

***Ozz Negri has made a trip to Sebring for meetings on potential drives later this year. The Brazilian told Sportscar365 that he’s had discussions with AF Corse team boss Amato Ferrari on potential GT3 drives, following an Asian Le Mans Series campaign in an AF-run Ferrari 488 GT3 and selected outings in the WeatherTech Championship last year. Negri has also continued driver coaching, with USF2000 rising star Darren Keane.

***One of the original hybrid system companies in motorsports is targeting a re-entry into IMSA, potentially for the next-generation DPi platform. PUNCH Flybrid Ltd. managing director Tobias Knichel told Sportscar365 that he’s been in discussions with the sanctioning body for the potential use of its flywheel hybrid system.

***The technology, which most recently appeared in Dyson Racing’s Lola in ALMS competition, has seen a number of advancements in recent years and can be easily paired with Formula E-spec electric motors. “The biggest difference is that it’s now electromechanical. That allows a lot off-the-shelf storage,” Knichel said.

***IMSA has previously revealed interest in hybrid technology for its next-gen DPi regulations, which is set to debut in 2022, although it’s understood a decision has not yet been taken on what form of hybrid it could utilize. 

***Multimatic is one of the busiest organizations in the paddock this weekend in operating the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing WEC team, a pair of Ford Mustang GT4s in the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge race as well as supporting the IMSA-based Ford GTLM and Mazda DPi programs. A total of 65 staff are on-site.

“It’s amazing figure when you consider that it wasn’t so long ago that my entire group didn’t have that many people in it,” said Multimatic chief technical officer Larry Holt. “The challenge is both huge and diverse. On one hand we have two complete teams running Multimatic engineered and built cars and on the other we have trailers full of parts and technicians supporting our customer racing programs.”

***Brian Alder said he’s “keeping his options open” about a possible return to professional racing for his BAR1 Motorsports operation. Alder indicated that IMSA Prototype Challenge was one possible destination, but BAR1 remains active in vintage racing in the meantime.

***Lawson Aschenbach’s deal to join PPM has its roots in the 2011 Michelin Pilot Challenge season that he spent racing for Mitchum Motorsports. PPM team manager Sunny Voelker worked for Mitchum at the time, and when the team needed a stand in for Sebring Aschenbach was her first call.

***Voelker told Sportscar365 that Aschenbach had already made an impact in the engineering room based on his past experience with the Audi R8 LMS, a similar platform to the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo that the team fields in the WeatherTech Championship.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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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