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Sebring IMSA Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from unload day for WeatherTech Championship at Sebring…

Photo: John Dagys

***IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams unloaded on Wednesday morning ahead of the start of on-track action tomorrow. A total of 53 cars are due to take part in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in what has already been a busy and crowded paddock.

***The No. 7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine D08 Nissan has lost Trenton Estep as one of its drivers, with Estep to apparently focus entirely on his Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands commitments this weekend. The official entry list shows a TBA alongside Mark Kvamme and Anthony Mantella. 

***Oliver Jarvis predicts a wider gap between DPi and FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 cars this week due to further adjustments to the Gibson-powered prototypes in the globe-trotting championship. He said to expect between 3-5 seconds per lap, despite LMP2s pacing the WEC Prologue sessions last weekend.

***Unlike the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercar drivers which are not allowed to be driving during the IMSA sessions until the completion of the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday evening, Jarvis will be going back and forth between Meyer Shank Racing (IMSA) and United Autosports (WEC) with a focus on his WeatherTech Championship commitments.

***A total of 21 drivers are slated to take part in the WEC race as well as Saturday’s Twelve Hours of Sebring, including the entire lineup in the No. 48 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

***Action Express Racing director of operations Chris Mitchum told Sportscar365 that Mike Rockenfeller will be “100 percent” focused on the No. 48 car during the WeatherTech Championship sessions, with its Toyota drivers set to turn their first laps of the weekend in the Cadillacs during Saturday morning’s 20-minute warmup.

***Rockenfeller, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway, meanwhile, have all received permission to miss the IMSA autograph session, which coincides with pre-race WEC activities on Friday. Action Express will instead have pre-signed cards at its transporters for fans. 

***Mitchum confirmed that Conway will contest the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering-sponsored Cadillac, in order to retain the same three-driver lineup for all Michelin Endurance Cup races. Jimmie Johnson, meanwhile, will return to the No. 48 alongside Kobayashi and Rockenfeller for the final two Endurance Cup rounds.

***Risi Competizione is making its first start at Sebring since 2018 when James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Toni Vilander finished fifth in the GTLM class.

***The Houston-based team has yet to announce any further plans this year although will not take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans following last year’s LMP2 effort run by a satellite team in the UK that has since morphed into Vector Sport, which is making its WEC debut this week.

***Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR is utilizing the same Acura NSX GT3 chassis that won the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Pro-Am title with Kyle Marcelli and Martin Barkey in 2019. Marcelli has been reunited with the car this weekend, which he will share with Ashton Harrison and Tom Long.

***While featuring a majority of Racers Edge crew, the joint effort is using a Wayne Taylor Racing transporter and Konica Minolta-branded awning. 

***As previously reported by Sportscar365, the team has not ruled out additional outings in the WeatherTech Championship later this year, according to Racers Edge team principal Jon Mirachi, although will prioritize its GTWC America program with Harrison and Mario Farnbacher.

***IMSA has limited teams to a maximum of three voluntary technical inspections during each event, excluding safety inspections or involuntary inspections such as impound after qualifying or races. This comes after “long lines” at Daytona and the wish that voluntary inspection is “uniformly available to all cars.”

***Several of teams will be carrying a Vic Elford sticker designed by Andy Blackmore. This is to remember Elford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 86 after a long battle with cancer.

***IMSA and NASCAR have sent out media alerts indicating there will be “major announcement” to be made by NASCAR and IMSA at Sebring tomorrow at 1 p.m.

***Sportscar365 understands that an announcement regarding Lamborghini’s likely LMDh program will not be made this weekend as initially suggested. The Italian manufacturer has continued to evaluate a GTP and Hypercar effort for as early as 2024.

***Meyer Shank Racing team co-owner Mike Shank is on-site and will remain at Sebring until taking a flight to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday at 2 p.m. A number of drivers had attempted to pull double duty between the two events until a schedule change made by the NTT IndyCar Series made it nearly impossible to accomplish such a feat.

***Saturday’s round will be only the third WeatherTech Championship race Shank will have missed after prioritizing IndyCar events during the Road America and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca weekends in 2021. MSR has expanded to a two-car full-season IndyCar effort with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud this year.

***Jack Hawksworth said Aaron Telitz’s return to the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 this weekend, as a sub for the IndyCar-bound Kyle Kirkwood, is “almost like he’s never left.” Hawksworth told Sportscar365: “Aaron has proven over the last three years that he’s a really complete driver. He goes out and delivers good performance every time. He looks after the car and does everything right. To have him back for this race is great.”

***United Autosports’ LMP3 car it utilized in selected Endurance Cup races last year has since gone back to the UK according to team co-owner and managing director Richard Dean, who told Sportscar365 that he has not ruled out a LMP3 effort for Motul Petit Le Mans.

***The lineup in the United’s LMP2 car for the remainder of the Endurance Cup remains to-be-determined beyond its Bronze-rated driver Jim McGuire, with Phil Hanson possibly returning to the lineup in place of Guy Smith and Silver-rated Duncan Tappy’s status to be solidified following this weekend.

***GTD Pro points leaders Pfaff Motorsports has announced new title sponsorship from Driveway, an online automotive retailer that is owned by Pfaff’s parent company Lithia. Driveway offers consumers across the U.S. the ability to buy, sell and service their vehicle from the convenience of their own home. 

***A total of 63 Porsche-built race cars are taking part in various races at Sebring this week, including four 911 GT3 R cars in the WeatherTech Championship, nine in Michelin Pilot Challenge, 43 in Carrera Cup and seven in the WEC.

***Former team co-owner/driver David Cheng is expected to announce a return to driving later this week, in what Sportscar365 believes to be in the LMP2 class. Cheng helped spearhead Jackie Chan DC Racing, which did not continue in the WEC following the 2019-20 season.

***Action Express Racing’s Tristan Nunez will be part of the fan zone entertainment this weekend, with his band ‘Acceleration’ playing on Friday at 8 p.m. “My band is my dad on bass and a bunch of family friends,” Nunez said. “We play a little bit of everything from classic rock, country, and even a few of our own originals.”

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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