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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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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