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Sebring Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Thursday notebook from Sebring International Raceway paddock…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Scott Andrews has completed the lineup in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend, with the LMP3 regular and European Le Mans Series race-winner joining Stephen Simpson and Matheus Leist in the ‘Banana Boat’ DPi entry.

“John Church has been a big part of my career in America and it has gone full circle,” said the Australian. “In 2013 when I first moved to U.S., he gave me my first shot in USF2000. I’ve won races with JDC in LMP3 in IMSA, and now seven years later I am getting the chance in one of the biggest sports car championships in the world.”

***The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R battled gearbox issues and was late to the second practice session. It comes after a full rebuild of the car following intermittent electrical gremlins for the championship-contending entry of Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe in the last two races. 

***Wayne Taylor Racing has sold its two remaining Cadillac DPis to collectors. It comes amid rumors of Chip Ganassi Racing entering a Cadillac next year, although the two are understood to be unrelated. 

***With the date change to November, more than one-third of this year’s race will be run in darkness, equating to roughly two additional hours of night-time running. Unlike previous years, teams are expecting to utilize all three of their drivers in the darkness, which could play a factor.

***A total of 25 Bronze or Silver-rated drivers are required to complete night practice in order to be eligible to drive in the darkness in the race. Click Here for the list.

***IMSA has made seven trips to Sebring since the start of 2018, the most at any circuit in that timeframe. It includes two 12-hour races in March, a pair of Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore events in November 2018 and 2019 as well as July’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring that was part of the sanctioning body’s ‘Back to Racing’ program.

***It is the busiest weekend of the year for Porsche, which has 14 of its 16 GT factory drivers in action, spread between Sebring, the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain as well as the title-deciding race of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS at Paul Ricard.

***Porsche’s director of factory motorsports, Pascal Zurlinden said they will be utilizing remote engineering support between the three locations from its ops room in Weissach. “Like this you can cover more than one event,” he told Sportscar365. “We are getting more and more flexible from the time with coronavirus.”

***As part of its ‘Thank You’ campaign this weekend, five Porsche 911 RSRs will take part in three ‘farewell laps’ on Saturday morning prior to the race including several of the team’s most popular liveries.

***Cooper MacNeil will be at the wheel of the Coca-Cola-liveried Porsche, which is now owned by WeatherTech founder and CEO David MacNeil, while CORE autosport owner Jon Bennett will be part of the parade at the wheel of a 2016 race-winning model.

***Other cars slated for the farewell laps include the Brumos-liveried Porsche, the 2018 Petit Le Mans-winning Mobil 1 Porsche 911 GT1 98-inspired car, to be driven by Patrick Long and the current-generation Porsche 911 RSR-19 with this weekend’s special ‘Thank You’ livery.

***Additionally a ‘Thank You’ video and poster was unveiled on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, highlighting the factory GTLM squad’s seven-year run in the series.

***Action Express Racing will be looking for their third straight victory at Sebring after winning the 12-hour in 2019 and this year’s sprint race. Pipo Derani, meanwhile, will be seeking his fourth consecutive Sebring win in appearance when factoring in his 2018 victory with ESM.

***AIM Vasser Sullivan could have a shakeup to its driver lineup next year, with Townsend Bell rumored to be out of a drive with the team.

***Performance Tech Motorsports, which is set to focus on LMP3-only next year, will receive two brand-new Ligier JS P320 Nissans and upgrade one of its existing Ligier JS P3 cars for its planned 2021 campaign that will see a single-car WeatherTech Championship entry and two in IMSA Prototype Challenge.

***Team principal Brent O’Neill told Sportscar365 that its deal with Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne this weekend is a “one off” and unlikely to turn into anything full-time for 2021. 

***IMSA has revealed that the LMP3 class will have orange color designations next year in the WeatherTech Championship, with accents on the number plate, rear wing endplates, mirrors, windscreen and leader lights.

***Matt McMurry has recently taken up a full-time position at Honda Performance Development following his graduation from UC Irvine with a degree in aerospace engineering. While admitting that “everyone’s joking that I’m the janitor there” McMurry actually works as a vehicle dynamics engineer.

“I’m working a lot of lap time simulation-type stuff,” he told Sportscar365.”I think it helps off the track the most. It’s good to know everybody at HPD and know more about the car in general.”

***Lyn St. James, Janet Guthrie, Dick Barbour Racing and Bruce McLaren are the 2020 inductees into the Sebring Hall of Fame. St. James and Guthrie were pioneer female drivers who opened opportunities for women in motorsports while Barbour’s team was a dominant force in endurance racing, winning Sebring three times. McLaren won at Sebring in both Formula One (1959) and the 12-hour race co-driving with Mario Andretti (1967).

***As was the case during the July race, only the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is set up in the traditional pits, with Michelin Pilot Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama all set up in the WEC pit lane off of Turn 16.

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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