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Sebring Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Sebring International Raceway…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***While the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R has topped the time sheets in both practice sessions, its sister No. 48 car has so far struggled, with throttle-related issues resulting in the Jimmie Johnson, Simon Pagenaud and Kamui Kobayashi-driven DPi completing only six laps in Practice 2.

“We’ve got some issue there where the throttle is still carrying us in the turn and not returning back to zero,” Johnson explained. “So there were a couple of excited moments. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. It’s pretty intermittent so not something that we can find real easily.”

***As was the case in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, over-the-wall crew members from Hendrick Motorsports will be serving as the pit crew on the No. 48 car this weekend, all hand-picked by the team’s vice president of competition Chad Knaus, who will be calling strategy on the car. 

***Scott Honan is the only carry-over from the team’s pit crew at the Rolex 24, with Honan joined this weekend by NASCAR regulars Cody French, Mike Hubert, Mike McAndrews and Jamie Frady.

***A total of 35 drivers will be required to complete laps in tonight’s night practice in order to be eligible to drive during periods of darkness in the race. Click Here for the list. The 90-minute session gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET.

***IMSA has adjusted its wave-by procedure to include LMP2 and LMP3 cars together in a ‘Prototype’ class split. The change will see the two classes restart ahead of all GTLM and GTD cars and behind DPi cars. The new procedure was trialled during Practice 2 and is again expected to be practiced in tonight’s session.

***The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R is a brand-new chassis this weekend after the team was forced to revert to an ex-Black Swan Racing car for the Rolex 24 due to an accident at the Roar Before the Rolex 24. 

***Despite standing down from driving this weekend, Ryan Hardwick is still on-site to support the team. After having missed the Rolex 24 due to a concussion from an accident at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, it’s understood Hardwick will now focus his driving efforts on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races this year.

***Porsche has won the last three Twelve Hours of Sebring races in GTLM, with WeatherTech Racing’s Cooper MacNeil, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet seeking to extend the record to four.

***Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber are believed to be MacNeil’s co-drivers for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in GTE-Pro, in what will mark a reunion of #Bamthor driving duo since being split up following the conclusion of the North American-based Porsche factory GTLM program.

***As was the case in the last two Sebring IMSA events, the second pit lane — constructed for the FIA World Endurance Championship — is being used by the support series this weekend including Michelin Pilot Challenge and the new-for-2021 Porsche Carrera Cup North America.

***Jordan Taylor returns to the site of his first start with Corvette Racing, nine years ago. He finished second in the GT class alongside Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the 2012 edition. “It feels like a long time ago in a lot of ways and in a lot of other ways it doesn’t,” he said. “Back then, I was so young and I’d say naïve to be in that position at such a young age; I don’t think I realized what position I was in back then.”

***Michael Andretti has been spotted in the paddock this weekend. The Andretti Autosport co-owner is known to be one of many teams pursuing LMDh programs for 2023 and beyond. Former Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan is also making the rounds.

***Mercedes-AMG announced a restructuring of its motorsport department on Thursday, naming Christoph Sagemueller as its new head of motorsport in a new position within the German manufacturer.

***Stefan Wendl remains the head of customer racing, with Sagemueller brought in to serve as the “connection” to Mercedes’ Formula 1 team’s marketing and commercial activities in what will mark a closer working relationship between the F1 and GT operations.

***The No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson is a brand-new chassis, with work having been completed late last night on the installation of IMSA-specific equipment according to team co-owner/managing director Richard Dean.

***United’s lineup for the remainder of the Michelin Endurance Cup races remains to-be-determined according to team co-owner/managing director Richard Dean, who indicated to Sportscar365 that Jim McGuire would continue to be part of the driving squad.

***The Anglo-American team had initially committed to running the Rolex 24 at Daytona in LMP3 prior to learning of IMSA’s driver pairing rules that does not mandate a Bronze driver, rather permitting Silver-rated pilots under the age of 30 in a Bronze’s place.

“The Bronze drivers that we had in place didn’t want to go ahead when that wasn’t the case, because Silvers and Golds in the car was not something they were expecting,” Dean told Sportscar365.

***Dean revealed they would have entered four LMP2 cars in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans had it committed to a second WEC entry. The team has instead focused on a three-car Le Mans operation, utilizing two of its five earned auto invites for its various wins and championships in ACO-run series.

***Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito are set to be free agents at the end of the year, with both drivers currently contracted to Mazda, which is due to end its DPi involvement. Their co-driver Harry Tincknell is a Multimatic-contracted driver and is expected to remain with the company through its future LMDh projects. 

***Jarvis, a former Audi LMP1 factory driver, said he’s “quietly confident” for the future. “There’s lots of manufacturers coming in which means there will be opportunities for drivers both in Europe and in IMSA,” he said. “At the moment I’m not really focused on that. The whole focus is on this year at present. At some point we’ll have to look at the future [for] all of us. That will probably happen later in the season.”

***Vanthoor’s block of “tiny homes” located in Dunedin, Fla. is nearing completion. The Belgian is building four small rental properties under the Jemila Homes name for Airbnb stays. As chronicled on his Instagram page, Vanthoor has been helping build the homes alongside his contractor. 

***Vanthoor told Sportscar365 that he plans to return to Florida with his family in April for an extended stay prior to the series’ next round at Mid-Ohio. He said he hopes to open the homes to short-term rentals beginning this summer.

***An untitled TV drama series about the early days of IMSA is in the works. Deadline reports that writer-producer Vinnie Wilhelm is working on a series that explores IMSA racing and the subculture of illegal activities during the 1980s. Sportscar365 understands that longtime IMSA team manager Gary Cummings has been brought on as a technical liaison.

Daniel Lloyd 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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