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Chevrolet Champions Celebration Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s notebook from GM Heritage Center champions event…

Photo: Chevrolet

Photo: Chevrolet

***Mark Kent, Director, Chevrolet Racing, told Sportscar365 the decision on GM’s future involvement within the Prototype category and the new Daytona Prototype international platform will need to be revealed in early 2016, so each of its three partner teams can decide their next car. The Corvette DP’s last year of competition is set for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, before the DPi/P2 era starts in 2017.

***Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told Sportscar365 the team’s Rolex 24 at Daytona lineup will follow past team history, with two DPs now joining its two new Ford GTs. Lineups are due out before the end of the calendar year. While Ganassi is full-in on Ford for its sports car program, Hull and Ganassi were on site in Michigan to celebrate Ganassi’s IndyCar championship success, achieved with Scott Dixon in a Chevrolet.

***GM recognized Andy Pilgrim with a special honor for his 16 years of service with the company, with Corvette Racing from 1999 to 2003 and Cadillac Racing from 2004 to 2007, and 2011 to 2015. Over that time period, Pilgrim won 30 races, the 2005 World Challenge GT championship, and helped Cadillac secure four manufacturer’s championships from 2011 to 2014.

***While Pilgrim won’t return to Cadillac Racing in 2016, he told Sportscar365 he is keen to continue in World Challenge with another team for another season. Given his career pedigree and his incredible character, he’d be an asset somewhere on the grid next season.

***The second Cadillac Racing seat remains a hot topic as several drivers are rumored to be in consideration for the second ATS-V.R alongside four-time defending series champion Johnny O’Connell. But there were no hints dropped about who might be in the seat during Wednesday’s event. With the holidays upcoming, it’s unlikely this seat will be announced before the end of the calendar year.

***Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples and Ray Sorensen made their first trip to GM Heritage Center on Wednesday, to support GTS champion Michael Cooper. With the new run of GT4 cars being announced for GTS in 2016 (KTM, SIN, Maserati), it remains to be seen how the performance window will be defined to see the Camaro Z/28.Rs fit into the class equation. The team is keen to return though; Cooper’s title was the team’s third consecutive in GTS after Lawson Aschenbach won in 2013 and 2014.

***Although they didn’t win the championship in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this year, Corvette Racing’s endurance racing triple crown was recognized. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe won the opening rounds at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor then capturing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Gavin, a recent competitor at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, won’t return to Mount Panorama for the 2016 edition. With the gap between the Rolex 24 and Bathurst now down to one week, and with Corvette Racing due to test in February at Sebring, the Corvette commitments will take precedence over another Bathurst 12 Hour appearance.

***Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi celebrated their second straight driver’s championship, and Chevrolet celebrated its manufacturer’s championship in the Prototype category.

***Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS champions Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis of Stevenson Motorsports were also recognized in their final (for now) appearance at this event. The Stevenson team moves back up to the top level of IMSA’s series, and switches to the new Audi R8 LMS, next season.

***The championship celebration event was held at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich., a hidden gem you wouldn’t necessarily expect upon arrival from the road. Besides the sports car honorees, Chevrolet also honored its IndyCar, NHRA, World of Outlaws and NASCAR champions for the 2015 season, in another banner year for the manufacturer.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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