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Sebring Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Sebring International Raceway…

Photo: John Dagys

***Markus Palttala will complete the season in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, replacing the team’s scheduled full-time driver Jens Klingmann, who has been assigned to other BMW duties in Europe. The Finn helped take the team to the GT Daytona title in 2014.

***Team owner Will Turner told Sportscar365 they’re working on a “race by race” basis for Palttala’s co-driver. Don Yount, however, has been confirmed for the remainder of the Tequila Patron Endurance Cup races and Turner hasn’t ruled out a second GT Daytona entry later in the year.

***While returning to its traditional yellow and blue livery this weekend, Turner said the Liqui-Moly colors it debuted at Daytona will be back for two other races later this year.

***The No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson returned to action in second practice following Chris Miller’s accident this morning. Right-rear damage was sustained to the GAINSCO-backed entry, although was quickly repaired.

***Brake issues halted the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca this morning, which completed just one lap. The car completed 20 laps in the afternoon session, setting the fifth quickest time overall, and fastest of the LMP2 cars.

***Despite being on the entry list as a fourth driver, Joel Miller is not expected to drive the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca this weekend. Miller, who is on-site, was brought on as a reserve driver, and has yet to drive the car.

***Nelson Panciatici, who makes his debut in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Oreca, could contest the remainder of the Patron Endurance Cup races. The Frenchman told Sportscar365 he’s working on potential other programs but so far is not confirmed for the FIA World Endurance Championship or European Le Mans Series.

***The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE is a new chassis this weekend, following its accident in last month’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring.

***After missing Daytona due to an illness, Reinhold Joest is here this weekend, in his first race appearance with the newly named Mazda Team Joest operation.

***DPi manufacturers, as well as representatives from IMSA, the FIA and ACO are set to meet this evening for the latest round of future prototype regulation discussions. A number of ACO/WEC staff, including sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil and technical director Thierry Bouvet, were spotted in the paddock this morning.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing team director Rob Leupen and team manager John Steeghs are also on-site, although it’s unclear if they have been part of the joint meetings. The Japanese manufacturer is understood to have deployed staff in preparation for the Sebring 2019 race.

***Sportcar365 has learned there was a proposal to have a Toyota TS050 Hybrid run demonstration laps prior to Saturday’s race, although it failed to materialize. It’s understood a post-race testing program had also been under consideration at one point.

***Despite the ramped-up preparations for the joint event in 2019, there are increasing questions if the WEC race will go ahead as planned. Multiple sources have indicated that a number of logistical and marketing issues may be too much to overcome.

***It’s unclear if the WEC’s likely return to Interlagos, which could be announced next week, could serve as a potential back-up plan instead.

***While not returning to Ford Chip Ganassi Racing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sportscar365 understands that Pipo Derani is close to securing a drive with another GTE team for the race.

***Michael Shank Racing driver Katherine Legge was announced as a new member of four-time triathlon world champion Leanda Cave’s Team LC. The all-female team aims to empower women through sports and has 30 members competing around the world in 2018.

***As part of the initiative Legge will be competing in the Challenge Daytona event at Daytona International Speedway in December. Portions of the cycling course will be held on the Daytona circuit, while the swimming element will take place in Lake Lloyd in the Daytona infield.

***Legge will be competing on a Ventum bicycle that shares a livery with her Acura NSX GT3. The bike will be auctioned off for charity following the race in December.

***Alvaro Parente says he is not experiencing any lingering effects from last weekends heavy crash in the Pirelli World Challenge race in St. Pete. “I’ve been a little bit sore these last few days, but no major injuries so I’m ready to go!”

***Parente also praised the safety of the Bentley Continental GT3 and the track’s safety crew for keeping him safe, noting that the tire barrier placement was perfect and all the safety mechanisms did their job.

***Saturday will mark Bill Auberlen’s 25th start in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the second most starts in event history behind only the legendary Hurley Haywood who made 28 appearances in the classic race.

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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