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VIR Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Michelin GT Challenge weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***IMSA found two GT Daytona cars out of compliance following post-qualifying tech inspection. The No. 27 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s rear wing was out of tolerance to homologation while the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R had a ride height infraction. Both cars will start from the rear of the field.

***It promotes the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, which lost its qualifying times due to a pit lane infraction, to 13th on the grid instead of initially being last. 

***Kevin Estre is making his second start of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with WeatherTech Racing due to both Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet being on Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup duty this weekend in Barcelona.

***The Frenchman and Cooper MacNeil both tested at VIR in early September. Jaminet and Campbell will rejoin MacNeil for next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans in what will be the final outing for the Porsche 911 RSR-19 in WeatherTech Championship competition.

***The No. 79 WeatherTech Porsche battled steering issues in Friday’s second practice session, which resulted in a steering rack change prior to qualifying according to team principal Christian Reid.

***An electrical issue hampered the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in opening practice, while the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 bounced back from a coolant leak in Practice 2 to claim GTD pole in the hands of Robby Foley.

***Foley said he and co-driver Bill Auberlen feel they are not totally out of the championship battle, having moved to less than 120 points of Pfaff Motorsports’ Laurens Vanthoor and Zach Robichon, who had a miserable qualifying session due to a pit lane infringement that will force them to start third-from-last in class and score 13th place qualifying points.

***A number of safety-related improvements have been made to the 3.27-mile circuit since last year’s event, including the installation of a guardrail in Turn 1, which was the site of Devin Jones’ massive accident in Michelin Pilot Challenge last year that left Jones with a broken back and arm.

***VIR marks the home race for Team Hardpoint, which has its shop on the track property. The team moved into Virginia Motorsport Technology park last November.

***Hardpoint Motorsports will have no involvement in EBM Giga’s Pro-Am class effort in next weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour according to a Team Hardpoint spokesperson. Sportscar365 understands that there were no plans for any form of collaboration even before the abrupt parting of ways between the two organizations and Will Bamber last week.

***Lars Kern, who recently sustained a back injury, is expected to be fit to race the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche at Petit Le Mans according to co-driver Zach Robichon. Kern, one of Porsche’s lead road car test drivers, is taking part in this weekend’s Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie season finale in a Falken Motorsports-entered GT3-spec Porsche.

***IMSA has reminded competitors of its paddock scooter ban, which was imposed ahead of the Road America weekend. Per the sporting regulations: “motorcycles, drones, bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades and other non-motorized transportation, as well as motor scooters of one, two or three-wheels and/or designed to transport one or two persons, are prohibited in the garage, pit and/or paddock areas with the exception of authorized power-driven mobility devices.”

***Paul Miller Racing has received an offer from a GT3 manufacturer to field an all-factory driver crewed GTD Pro effort next year according to team owner Paul Miller, who told Sportscar365 that a decision will be made following next month’s season-ending Petit Le Mans.

***While not disclosing the manufacturer, Sportscar365 believes it could be Lamborghini following initial discussions with K-PAX Racing to make a switch from Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS to WeatherTech Championship competition understood to currently being at a stumbling block. 

***An all-female GTD Pro lineup featuring Katherine Legge and Porsche factory driver Simona de Silvestro has been suggested as a possibility for next year with Team Hardpoint, which has been working on a two-car program for 2022 that would involve fielding a Porsche 911 GT3 R in each class.

***Further details on Corvette Racing’s future programs are expected to be made by Petit Le Mans weekend, including its 2022 race plans.

***Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports is planning to utilize next month’s Petit Le Mans as a “big motivator” whether the team will take on a full-season WeatherTech Championship program or focus on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races next year according to Guy Cosmo.

***Cosmo is joined at the wheel of the team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo by Mike Skeen this weekend. Cosmo explained that VIR has been the first available weekend for Skeen to join the team’s newly expanded GTD effort. The current plan enlists Cosmo, Skeen and Shane Lewis for the season finale.

***Alegra Motorsports’ participation at Petit Le Mans remains “TBD” according to Billy Johnson, who was at VIR on Friday in a driver coaching capacity. Johnson is due to travel to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race working in a similar capacity for Roush Fenway Racing.

***While WeatherTech Racing has confirmed a move to the GTD class next year, Sportscar365 understands the manufacturer has not yet been finalized. Longtime Porsche stalwarts Proton Competition is understood to have a long-term contract to operate the program.

***Gar Robinson looks set to return to the LMP3 ranks next year according to team owner Bill Riley, who told Sportscar365 that all of his programs are in a good state for 2022. Riley told Sportscar365 that he’s in discussions with Jim Cox to finalize the team’s second prototype entry.

***Muehlner Motorsports is targeting a return to the WeatherTech Championship grid for Petit Le Mans according to team owner Bernhard Muehlner, who could have up to three Duqueine D08 Nissans in operation that weekend between the ten-hour enduro and the IMSA Prototype Challenge season finale.

***Muehlner told Sportscar365 that several of its European-based LMP3 cars will be shipped Stateside following the Michelin Le Mans Cup season finale in Portimao later this month. The team is planning a step up to LMP2 competition in the European Le Mans Series next year, meanwhile.

***Michelin is bringing a group of U.S. Army soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg to Saturday’s race as part of the base Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program. The ten soldiers will, among other things, visit the Team Hardpoint transporter and race shop throughout the day, and get to see some of the race from the Team Hardpoint pit box.

***The military connection is important to Team Hardpoint, as Ferriol served eight years as an enlisted intelligence specialist in the U.S. Marine Corps, followed by another five years as a government civilian with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Across his 13 years of government and military service, he has deployed to multiple conflict zones around the globe in support of U.S. counterterrorism operations, including Iraq, Afghanistan, South America and Africa.

***Jason Link, Team Hardpoint’s general manager, served in the U.S. Army for 14 years, including four years as an infantryman with the 3/75th Ranger Regiment and for 10 years as an operator with the 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force), and other members of the team’s crew have military experience as well. He was recently awarded a Silver Star.

***Mazda is inviting fans to have their autograph on its DPi car for the program’s final race at Petit Le Mans next month. Fans are requested to send a PNG file of their signature to MazdaSignatures@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the livery.

***IMSA racing returns to network NBC on Saturday with live coverage of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR. Coverage will be led by Leigh Diffey and Calvin Fish in the booth with Kelli Stavist and Dillon Welch on pit lane beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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