***Risi Competizione makes its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start since Circuit of The Americas in May, with Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella back at the wheel of its Ferrari 488 GTE car. The chassis, which was prepped for Watkins Glen, hasn’t tested since, according to technical director Rick Mayer.
***Mayer told Sportscar365 they plan to complete the remainder of the season, with the team’s third driver for Petit Le Mans still to-be-determined. The Houston-based squad recently received its Le Mans chassis, which was sent to Italy for repairs after its race-ending accident.
***3GT Racing has remained with its adjusted driver pairings of Robert Alon and Sage Karam in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 and Jack Hawksworth and Scott Pruett, which debuted earlier this month at Road America.
***Patrick Long makes his return to Alegra Motorsports for the second time this season. The Porsche factory driver, who finished third at Lime Rock with Daniel Morad, will be looking to give the Florida-based team a further boost in their championship chase. Alegra and Morad currently sit 7th in the GTD team and drivers’ championship.
***Cautions have been few and far between at Virginia International Raceway, with only a total of eight laps having been run behind the safety car in the last three years, with seven of them coming in 2014. The race ran caution-free in 2015, with last year’s race seeing just a single lap under yellow.
***Sunday’s race could see the fourth different GTLM and GTD manufacturer visit victory lane in as many years. Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen won here last year, with Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, of Porsche, victorious in 2016 and Risi’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer victorious in 2014. Paul Miller Racing (Lamborghini) took top GTD honors at VIR last year, while Scuderia Corsa (Ferrari) and Turner Motorsport (BMW) picked up class wins in 2015 and 2014, respectively.
***A total of 33 Porsche Motorsport-built race cars are taking part this weekend across three series: WeatherTech Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
***Dirk Werner, who searches for his second GT Le Mans class victory of the season this weekend, won his first professional race in North America at VIR in 2007, co-driving a Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to victory in GRAND-AM GT competition in 2007.
***A number of Prototype teams are set to test at Road Atlanta next week. Cadillac DPi squads Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing, plus Visit Florida Racing’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson will be on hand, with the SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 scheduled for a single-day test on Aug. 31.
***Stevenson Motorsports, Michael Shank Racing, Porsche GT Team and Land Motorsport, meanwhile, are scheduled for the following week, in preparation for the 20th anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans, which closes out the WeatherTech Championship season.
***Park Place Motorsports’ Patrick Lindsey and his Porsche 911 GT3 R will be taking part in the Park Place Luxury and Supercar Showcase at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas on Sept. 9. The exhibit will showcase some of the world’s leading luxury and high-performance vehicles as well as a select group of rare supercars, luxury, sports and classic cars from private collectors.
***NASCAR legend Richard Petty will serve as Grand Marshal for this weekend’s race, with the seven-time Premier Series champion set to give the command to start engines, with the Michelin Man drafted in to be the Honorary Starter and will wave the green flag for the two-hour and 40-minute race.
***Michelin will once again offer fans a chance to experience a Hot Lap aboard a BMW, Ferrari, Ford, or Corvette fitted with tires from the Michelin Pilot family of ultra-high-performance tires. Fans can look for chances to ride on the inner VIR Patriot Course by checking Michelin activities on site or on Michelin social media channels with the hashtag #MichelinVIR.