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Sebring Test Notebook

John Dagys’ notebook from IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring International Raceway…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 36 cars are taking part in this week’s IMSA-sanctioned Sebring Test, following the late addition of the No. 36 CJ Wilson Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer, which arrived unannounced on Wednesday morning but was confirmed later in the afternoon.

***Results and lap times are not being released from the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship portions of the test, due to IMSA’s performance evaluations for selected cars.

***The test is being run in a similar method to December’s test at Daytona, which saw cars running to specific aero and performance settings outlined by the sanctioning body for short run evaluations.

***The only significant incident as of 4 p.m. ET was a red flag for the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P of Harry Tincknell, which stopped on track in Turn 17 with smoke billowing out of the rear of the DPi car. IMSA safety crews were quickly on the scene to attend to the car.

***Jeroen Bleekemolen has been added to the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, alongside Kenny Habul, primarily for IMSA’s testing purposes. The Dutchman served as the designated driver for the Mercedes GT3 in the December test, when the No. 33 Riley Team AMG was utilized.

***A four-hour session kicked off activities on Thursday morning, with four additional hours of testing running until 6 p.m., followed by a dinner break and a two-hour night session from 7-9 p.m., which is new for this year.

***Two additional sessions are on tap for Friday, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

***The majority of Prototype entries are running in heavily revised aero configurations compared to last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with DPi cars in high-downforce trim. The only changes permitted to LMP2-spec machinery, however, comes with permitted diver plane additions and rear wing angle adjustments. 

***Both Tequila Patron ESM and P1 Motorsports are coming off separate private tests at Sebring earlier this month, prior to this week’s official test. 

***Continental Tire is debuting brand-new tire constructions for both Prototype and GT Daytona. The P2700 tire replaces the previous-generation ‘Black’ compound in Prototype, while the G6500 has been designated as the new tire for GTD competitors. Both tires are expected to be used for the balance of the season.

“Colin [Braun] and I are both impressed with the new Continental tire,” CORE autosport’s Jon Bennett told Sportscar365. “It does a much better job at doing lateral load and acceleration and braking load at the same time, so you find yourself with more of a cushion. We’re quite happy.”

***Alex Brundle has been a late addition to the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, filling in for Bruno Senna, who is under the weather. Brundle told Sportscar365 he received notice less than 24 hours ago to catch a flight from the UK to Florida. Thursday’s running marked the Englishman’s first time in the new-gen Ligier LMP2 car.

***The Anglo-American team is utilizing its 2017 European Le Mans Series race-winning chassis, which will remain in the U.S. for the remainder of the year at Andretti Autosport’s shop in Indianapolis. United Autosports has debuted a brand-new custom-liveried transporter.

***Brundle’s 2018 plans have yet to be announced beyond the previously confirmed drive with the Jota-supported R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 effort in the Blancpain GT Series.

***Nelson Panciatici is set to take part in next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with JDC-Miller Motorsports, with the Frenchman turning laps in the team’s No. 85 Oreca 07 Gibson. Austin Cindric and Devlin DeFrancesco completed the team’s lineup alongside full-season drivers Simon Trummer and Robert Alon at Daytona.

***JDC Motorsports has partnered with Team Highlands Racing to create an e-sports team. The team, under the THR/JDC Motorsports banner, will compete in various racing championships on the Xbox and PC platforms. 

***Bill Auberlen will make his 25th start in the Twelve Hours of Sebring next month. The BMW driver is ranked second in all-time race starts, behind leader Hurley Haywood at 28.

***Sportscar365 understands that an announcement on a new GTE manufacturer could be imminent. It’s unclear if that manufacturer’s participation could extend into the WeatherTech Championship or be focused entirely on the FIA World Endurance Championship, at least initially.

***CJ Wilson Racing could take part in additional endurance races with its Acura later this year, including the Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca, the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring in November, as well as the Hankook 24 Hours of COTA one week later.

***Jackie Chan DCR JOTA is unlikely to contest any remaining WeatherTech Championship races this year. The Chinese-backed team is understood to be focusing its efforts on the FIA World Endurance Championship season, where it will again field a pair of Oreca LMP2 cars.

***Jordan Taylor will not return to Corvette Racing for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, likely leaving both Ricky and Jordan without drives in the race. Jordan confirmed to Sportscar365 he is no longer actively searching for a ride, while Ricky had been seeking an opportunity in LMP2.

***When asked by Sportscar365, a Corvette Racing spokesperson said they are working to finalize details on its Le Mans program. However, it’s believed Marcel Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller will complete the lineup, as has been the case for Daytona and Sebring.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Almzkid

    February 22, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    New team same engine for poor old Mazda.

    Gte = Toyota. New supra gte unveiling at Geneva

    • AudiTT

      February 22, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      GTE is a UK brand. Which narrows things down considerably.

      • Tim

        February 22, 2018 at 7:17 pm

        Where do you see a “UK” brand? Must be McLaren then

        • AF

          February 23, 2018 at 2:31 am

          It’s none of those mentioned.

          • Downforce

            February 24, 2018 at 5:23 am

            I was thinking Aston.

      • Eurodance Typhoon

        February 23, 2018 at 7:14 am


  2. TF110

    February 22, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Mazda’s AER in flames again? How long will they hold on to that garbage engine before enough is enough? I wonder if this added GTE manufacturer is the rumored McLaren? Hopefully if it is they’re not using that ugly Senna monstrosity but rather the 720S based on the GT3.

    • Antonio Desmond Miles

      February 22, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I have to agree. Even with Team Joest, one of the most winningest sportscar teams can’t get that troubled AER engine to work. I listened to the 2nd Goodwin/Pruett podcast and a point was made: “You’re asking the smallest engine in the entire IMSA field to make the same horsepower as a Cadillac DPI V8 engine.” In addition to AER not having the most reliable engines, they’re being pushed far beyond what they deliver. Just when you think progress has been made, it all amounts to nothing.

    • Trevor

      February 22, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      McLaren has already confirmed development of a GT3 variant of the 720S, but has said it won’t be available to race until the 2019 season. My money is on Lamborghini.

  3. noname

    February 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    ***Sportscar365 understands that announcement on a new GTE manufacturer could be imminent.

    Lamborghini or McLaren, who will be first to come?

    • Matt

      February 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Lamborghini I suspect, McLaren seem keen on going to prototypes if they return. Overall wins only.

  4. Edo

    February 22, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    It might be Lamborghini, there were rumors about a gte chassis developed by Dallara. I think the new supra will be a gt3

    • Tim

      February 22, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      If I would put my money on anyone it would be Lamborghini.

  5. Tim

    February 22, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    I’m betting on Lamborghini or maybe McLaren. Both have interest in GTE.

    Also Audi?? DTM is said to be picking up GTE rules. This would leave everyone but Audi with a GTE car.

  6. Almzkid

    February 22, 2018 at 5:40 pm

  7. Ryan

    February 22, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    So is the D3 Racing thing just not happening? Pretty sure no one saw that coming…

  8. Harry Manback

    February 22, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Sooooooooooo basically, the “new” Supra GTE is the 2013-2015 BMW Z4 GTE? Because the Supra was developed with/by BMW to be a shared platform of the next-gen Z-roadster…. and the image in Almzkid’s like above looks striking similar… so just slap the new bodywork on it, get it homologated, and call it a day.

    Toyota: Half-assing life but acting like they are innovators and demanding undeserved respect for smug, ill-informed, apathetic owners/fans since 1937.

    • Bopper

      February 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      LOL, WTF is wrong with you?

      • Harry Manback

        February 22, 2018 at 8:24 pm

        Lots. What specifically are you referring to?

        • Bopper

          February 23, 2018 at 1:30 am

          Oh OK, that’s cool. I mean, you’re aggressively (and angrily) speculating all over the place. But at least you seem somewhat self-aware.

    • Should actually read Harry

      February 22, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      The chassis for the new Z/Supra is a new shared chassis and NOT the old Z4. But hey, I know reading can be hard.

      BMW get the solo rights to the convertible version while Toyota gets the hardtop for their new Supra. I expected to see a Lexus version when it was first announced a couple years ago but they’ve debuted a few of their own cars since then.

      • Harry Manback

        February 23, 2018 at 10:09 am

        Right. But the evolution of racing chassis doesn’t necessarily relate to the evolution of the road car’s chassis in levels above GT3…. especially when one has a winning formula already established.

        • tracer

          February 23, 2018 at 10:57 am

          Why are you still on about this? You are absolutely wrong. There is no link whatsoever between the next-gen shared Supra/Z4 chassis and the old E89 Z4 chassis. None.

  9. Mazda Greg

    February 23, 2018 at 7:04 am

    I was hoping to get through the race before heavy drinking would occur.

    • Cactus Tony

      February 23, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Is this Doonan’s alt?

  10. tracer

    February 23, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Was expecting it would be Lamborghini to announce its long expected entry in GTE, but the Toyota angle is certainly an enticing prospect coming out of left field to replace Ford once they sunset the Ford GT.

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