Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Sebring Wednesday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Sebring paddock ahead of 12-hour weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 37 cars are now on the entry list for this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring following the late addition of the No. 83 WIN Autosport Duqueine D08 Nissan of Matt Bell, Rodrigo Sales and Niklas Kruetten.

***Bell and Kruetten were announced Wednesday as part of Cool Racing’s LMP3 lineup in the European Le Mans Series, with 18-year-old Kruetten also set to contest the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup races with WIN.

***Corvette’s new liveries, as revealed by Sportscar365 on Wednesday morning, are understood to be for Sebring-only, as part of a tie-in with longtime partner Mobil 1. The oil giant serves as the title sponsor of the race.

***Ben Keating is set for a full season campaign in PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Oreca 07 Gibson alongside Mikkel Jensen. The pairing are again joined by Scott Huffaker in the Wynn’s-sponsored LMP2 car this weekend as the team’s Endurance Cup driver.

***Spencer Pigot is again in for Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 Nissan this weekend. Pigot subbed for Fraga at Daytona due to visa-related issues for the Brazilian which “lagged on” according to Pigot. 

***Fraga is actually on-site this weekend — visa in hand — with a team representative explaining to Sportscar365 that the decision was made to keep Pigot in the car as he took part in the team’s test at Sebring earlier this month.

***The No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier LMP3 entry sees a reshuffled lineup in Dan Goldburg joining Rasmus Lindh and Mateo Llarena, who both contested the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the car. Goldburg comes from the IMSA Prototype Challenge ranks with the Brent O’Neill-led operation.

***The identity of Roman De Angelis’ full-season co-driver in the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 remains to-be-determined according to Ian James, who told Sportscar365 that there’s a “few other factors” currently at play. Aston Martin factory driver Ross Gunn again completes the lineup this weekend alongside the two Silver-rated drivers.

***Paul Miller Racing will remain with the No. 1 on its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for the remainder of the season following confirmation of Action Express Racing’s expanded Endurance Cup program for its No. 48 Cadillac DPi-V.R. 

“Honestly it’s too confusing to swap back and forth,” Bryan Sellers told Sportscar365. “We would have preferred the No. 48 but it makes sense to keep the No. 1.”

***The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo is in a metallic green livery this weekend in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It’s unclear if Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier and Maro Engel will be sporting green hair to match the car’s livery, as was the case in Daytona when all four of its drivers dyed their hair blue.

***SunEnergy1 Racing’s Mercedes is again being run by Gradient Racing, which is planning a return for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races with its Acura NSX GT3 Evo beginning with the next overall round of the season at Mid-Ohio in May.

***Both BMW Team RLL and United Autosports completed shakedowns at Palm Beach International Raceway on Monday prior to arriving at Sebring. The pair of BMW M8 GTEs are understood to be fresh chassis since the Rolex 24.

***United Autosports is making its first WeatherTech Championship start since the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2018, which was part of its three-race campaign with Ligier JS P217 Gibson machinery in the Prototype class.

***With Scuderia Corsa, Risi Competizione or AF Corse not present, it will mark the first 12-hour Sebring race since 2001 that will not feature a Ferrari on the grid.

***The new two-stage format for the GT Daytona class debuts this weekend, which will see the team’s nominated Bronze/Silver driver set the car’s starting position, followed by another 15-minute session (shared with GTLM) that will hand out qualifying points.

***The four other classes — DPi, LMP2, LMP3 and GTLM — retain their traditional single session/driver qualifying format but also earn qualifying points in the process, as was the case from January’s Motul Pole Award 100 race at Daytona.

***Pfaff Motorsports driver Zach Robichon said a discussion on how to tackle qualifying will be “literally the first meeting” they’ll have this week. “We’ve been exchanging a lot of emails about that,” he said. “I think the way we prioritize time in practice will be a little bit less straightforward than it has been in the past.

“With the two separate qualifying sessions I think what you’ll see is a differentiation on how you approach it based on what race it is. The focus may change depending on the individual track. It definitely adds a strategy point. You can always make up places on the race track but you can’t make up points.”

***Robichon said the Pfaff Porsche squad has retained the same “core” crew including team manager Steve Bortolotti, its lead mechanics and engineer although have brought in new U.S.-based “auxiliary” staff due to the current Canadian border and quarantine restrictions that has impacted a number of teams. 

***Mike Krack, the former head of race and test engineering for BMW Motorsport, has been named the new motorsport director for the German manufacturer, effectively taking the place of Jens Marquardt, who stepped down late last year.

***Krack will report to M division CEO Markus Flasch, who had been the interim motorsports boss. As has been the case with Audi, BMW’s motorsport program is being aligned under its performance brand.

***Proton Competition has sea-freighted one of its European transporters to America for the operation of WeatherTech Racing’s GT Le Mans program. The transporter is seen parked in the far end of the paddock, with the team utilizing a borrowed Multimatic trailer for its main paddock setup. 

***LMDh talks are set to continue this weekend between new and prospective manufacturers and teams looking to join the growing platform for 2023 and beyond.

***Sportscar365 understands that Porsche is set to hold discussions with potential teams to operate its factory U.S.-based LMDh program this weekend, including talks with at least one existing championship-winning IMSA operation.

***ORECA’s customer racing service manager Anthony Megevand told Sportscar365 that the French constructor has received additional interest from manufacturers in recent months, with talks accelerating with more OEMs and at an increased level.

***Megevand predicts there could be more than six manufacturers committing to the platform across the four licensed constructors. So far Acura, Audi and Porsche have all announced plans, with the German manufacturers widely believed to be aligning with Multimatic. 

***IMSA is expected to announce multiple calendar changes to its 2021 schedule — potentially as early as this week — amid recent developments involving the Detroit Grand Prix and the likely cancelation of its event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the second consecutive year.

***Sportscar365 understands the Detroit round, which was initially confirmed as a single-day event the week before the NTT IndyCar Series’ two-day show on Belle Isle, is now expected to be combined into a three-day event on June 11-13, thanks to the ACO’s moving of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to August.

***SRO America has already reacted prior to IMSA’s expected announcement by moving its round at Virginia International Raceway up by one week to avoid an expected date clash.

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

Click to comment

More in WeatherTech Championship