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Watkins Glen Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday WeatherTech notebook from Watkins Glen…

Ford GT Pitlane Watkins Glen

Photo: Vincent Wouters

***The extension of the factory Ford GT program will be with two cars in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech Championship until 2019. A Ford spokesperson told Sportscar365 the intention will be to enter four cars again at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, entries permitting.

***A long-term deal with Chip Ganassi Racing, which is confirmed to operate the cars through 2017, has not yet been made but the intention is to continue with the team, the Ford spokesperson said.

***IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton told Sportscar365 that he expects the 2017 WeatherTech Championship schedule to be released during the Road America weekend next month. No major changes are anticipated, except for possible date adjustments, including an effort to avoid back-to-back weekends.

***Class structures for some races also remain to-be-determined for 2017, which relies on the anticipated car count for each category. “In a perfect world, you have to make a distinction between the ideal and the practical reality,” Atherton told Sportscar365.

***Ryan Briscoe’s wife Nicole gave birth to their daughter, Blake James Briscoe, late Friday. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who missed Friday and Saturday’s track action, returned to Watkins Glen on Saturday afternoon and will be in the car for warmup and the six-hour race.

***The No. 67 Ford GT will still start from the GTLM pole, despite Briscoe not getting any laps in practice or qualifying. Laps in warmup are counted towards the pre-race participation requirements, per IMSA rules.

***Dream Racing will not start tomorrow’s race, as IMSA has not approved the use of the team’s spare Lamborghini Huracan GT3 chassis. Larry DeGeorge destroyed the primary car in Friday’s second practice session, with the team building up its second car overnight. It will result in a 40-car starting field.

***Sportscar365 has learned that Porsche’s new 2017-spec 911 GTE car has been testing with a normally aspirated engine, despite video evidence indicating a possible turbocharged powerplant. It’s understood a decision for the N/A engine came prior to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***The DeltaWing has struggled so far this weekend, with the team having made multiple aero adjustments to adapt to the newly resurfaced track. Team manager Tim Keene told Sportscar365 they will likely run without the front splitter, but with the rear wing, after trying different aero configurations.

***Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner said the new pavement has resulted in a different approach to driving the famed circuit. “The line hasn’t changed much but the characteristics of the track has changed considerably,” he said. “The concrete patches were always such prominent features on the course but now they’re gone. In some ways, it lets you be a little more aggressive.”

***Corvette Racing’s Doug Fehan has shown his support of the news of the extension of the Ford GT program. “I think it speaks very well for the stability of the sport,” he told Sportscar365. “I think everyone in the paddock is happy to welcome them for extended periods of time.”

***Fehan clarified that the American flag he waved, that was pictured in one of Ford’s victory celebration photos, has been a long-standing tradition that began with Corvette’s first Le Mans appearance in 1999. The flag comes from Ian McBeth, an Englishman, who has since become an adopted crew member on the team. “He brings that flag and I wave that flag each year at the conclusion of the event,” Fehan said.

 ***With all of the new liveries, be sure to check out Andy Blackmore’s official Spotter Guide for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, featuring all 41 starters for the race.

***FOX Sports 1 will carry live flag-to-flag coverage of the race, beginning Sunday at 10 a.m. IMSA Radio will provide full coverage, with international viewers able to watch the race feed on IMSA.tv and on-board cameras for everyone.

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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