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VIR Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from Michelin GT Challenge weekend at VIR…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***Corey Fergus, who claimed his second GT Daytona class pole in four career starts, said he felt like he was driving for “revenge” after not being able to take the green flag from pole at Daytona last month due to a pre-race issue for his Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3 that resulted in a pit lane start.

***Fergus credited a post-practice conference call with McLaren Automotive engineers in England with going in a different direction in the car’s setup for qualifying.

***The GT Le Mans class pole-sitting No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 is believed to be a new chassis after Nick Tandy’s race-ending accident at the Kink at Road America. Tandy was one of several drivers to get caught out by the flooding of the track in the closing stages of the race.

***While not confirming a replacement chassis, Porsche’s director for factory motorsports Pascal Zurlinden said “a lot of work” had to go into the No. 911 entry in the weeks since Road America.

***Zurlinden said there’s been a high level of exchange between the CORE autosport-run IMSA and Manthey-operated FIA World Endurance Championship teams as of late, noting the WEC team’s GTE-Pro class win last weekend in Spa-Francorchamps. “It brought us forward in WEC with the long break using the experience of the IMSA crew but now it will also be information flowing both ways,” he explained.

***Paul Miller Racing has been “super fortunate” to have retained its entire team despite being furloughed for nearly four months. “Through this hiatus you don’t lose continuity, which is extremely important,” said Bryan Sellers, who indicted that the team only returned to the shop on Aug. 1. in preparation for this weekend.

***Sellers and Madison Snow are set to be joined by Corey Lewis for the team’s remaining races this year at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (6H and Motul Petit Le Mans) and the season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The No. 48 Lamborghini crew currently lead the Michelin Endurance Cup standings after their victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***Jordan Taylor, who made his professional racing debut at VIR in 2007, last competed on the 3.27-mile circuit in 2016 in World Challenge competition in the Cadillac ATS.V-R. Two years earlier, he served as a last-minute sub for the injured Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. “I was always upset that the prototypes never raced there with the split,” he said.

***This weekend marks the first time all five IMSA-sanctioned series are in action at the same event since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the races on tap are Michelin Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge races on Sunday, along with Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama rounds.

***A total of 22 Porsche Motorsport-built race cars are competing at VIR, including a 17-car grid for GT3 Cup Challenge.

***VIR has created a digital event program for this weekend. Click Here to download.

***Homestead-Miami Speedway has emerged as a possible replacement venue for WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, should the Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 event be forced to cancel.  Sportscar365 understands that Barber Motorsports Park still remains in the mix, as well as a possible third race at Daytona International Speedway and second race at Road America as part of IMSA’s contingency plans that could be used in place of other currently confirmed events.

***IMSA President John Doonan told Sportscar365 earlier this month that there’s “a lot of factors” that go into event rescheduling. “It’s 24/7 looking at venues, available dates, separation and what it does to the teams with the turn around of prepping the cars, and what it does to budgets and travel and whatever a state is allowing,” he said.

***Doonan stressed that any possible calendar changes would be announced as soon as it becomes confirmed, in order to give teams ample time to prepare.

***The prospects of Ferrari mounting a full-season GTLM campaign next year appear unlikely despite a concerted effort by the Italian manufacturer. Sportscar365 has learned that a two-car factory-supported program was recently called off after one of its sponsors pulled out of the proposed program due to the financial effects of COVID-19.

***It’s unclear if the decision was made before or after Porsche’s withdrawal from the class, which has left questions over the GTE platform’s future in the series.

***While operated by two separate entities in AIM Autosport and Dale Coyne Racing, Jimmy Vasser revealed that Vasser-Sullivan’s involvement in both programs has seen engineering crossover with IndyCar engineer Olivier Boisson having helped the Ian Willis-led AIM Vasser Sullivan engineering team on occasion. “He’s worked with Ian to help the damper side of the car,” Vasser told Sportscar365. “We’d like there to be more [crossover] in the future.”

***AVS Autosport has gone through a bolstering of its engineering department this year with Willis, a co-owner in AIM, moving into a technical director role and Geoff Fickling taking over as race engineer on the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. Keith Willis, meanwhile, has remained race engineer for the No. 12 car, while the team has brought on a junior engineer from Canada to assist.

***Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta announced today that the newly named Michelin Endurance Challenge weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, set for Sept. 4-6, will showcase Michelin’s retail partner, TireRack dot com, as the entitlement sponsor of the featured IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship six-hour race.

***The TireRack dot com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is set for Sat., Sept. 5 and is one of six races on the Michelin Endurance Challenge weekend schedule. 

***The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancelation of the 2020 edition of Patrick Long’s Luftgekühlt event. The seventh edition of the popular celebration of air-cooled Porsche road and race cars was scheduled for Durham, N.C.

***A documentary television series on Jackie Heinricher is in the works. Heinricher, who owns the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing-prepared Acura NSX GT3 Evo, will be the focus of the Flying Scoop M&E-produced series that will provide an “up close, inside look” at what it’s like to compete as a woman in motorsports.

***The reality series will begin production this fall, with plans to air in the fourth quarter of 2021 on yet-to-be-determined TV and streaming platforms.

***Parker Chase will pull double duty this weekend between his IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge drive with Bryan Herta Autosport and Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina. The 19-year-old will drive a late model for Chad Bryant Racing, the same team he drove for in ARCA Menards Series competition last weekend.

***Brian Till will return to the NBC Sports booth this weekend, anchoring coverage of the Michelin GT Challenge alongside Calvin Fish and AJ Allmendinger. Jon Beekhuis, meanwhile, will be on pit lane. Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.con will have live coverage Saturday at 1:55 p.m. ET, with NBCSN airing the race on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET and a repeat at Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.

***Live coverage on Saturday will be available on for international viewers, led by the IMSA Radio team of John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam.

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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