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GT World Challenge America

Las Vegas Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…

Photo: John Dagys

***SRO Motorsports America teams got their first taste of the 2.51-mile, 12-turn Las Vegas roval circuit in a pair of test sessions on Thursday for each series. The No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente was quickest among the Blancpain GT World Challenge America competitors, with a lap time of 1:33.855 in the second session.

***A red flag was thrown in the day’s second session because of debris on the track.

***James Sofronas led the way in Pirelli GT4 America, thanks to a 1:42.912 lap time in his No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport he’ll share with Jason Bell in this weekend’s SprintX races.

***It’s understood the track received final homologation from the FIA at 7 a.m. on Thursday, with only minor safety-related changes made since last weekend, which saw several teams take part in private testing at the facility.

***All races are slated to take the green flag between Turns 7 and 8 in the infield, due to the tight confines of the Turn 1 chicane complex.

***Sportscar365 understands that there was a tentative proposal to move the finish line on to the infield backstretch because the start/finish line is located within the Turn 1 braking zone. It’s believed the original line will still be used, with finishing cars allowed to bypass the Turn 1 chicane.

***Official practice gets underway at 7 p.m. PT for GT4 America competitors, followed by Practice 1 for GT World Challenge America at 8:35 p.m.

***It’s not the first time World Challenge has been to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as the series ran as a support race to the American Le Mans Series event in 2000 in a slightly different track layout. Of note, James Sofronas is the only driver to have contested that event as well as being listed to drive this weekend.

***SRO has imposed maximum camber limits for this weekend following data and analysis received during Road America and recent testing at Las Vegas. GT3 cars cannot exceed -4.5 degrees on the front and -3 degrees on the rear, with GT4 set for -4.5 degrees (front) and -3.5 degrees (rear).

***Camber and tire pressure mandates were rescinded during last month’s round at Road America after initially being enforced on the first day of track action, but with the understanding they would become mandatory from Las Vegas onwards.

***Preston Calvert and Matt Keegan have clinched the GT4 SprintX Am title by the fact of their nearest competitors, Auto Technic Racing’s John Allen and Kris Wilson, not being present this weekend. Calvert and Keegan are understood to have claimed the first-ever drivers’ title for Team Panoz Racing.

***Multi-time World Challenge champion Johnny O’Connell is serving as the Chief Driving Steward this weekend, in place of Brian Till, who continues his treatment for throat cancer. A GoFundMe page has been established to help Till with rising medical bills.

***Renger van der Zande said he was quickly up to speed in Squadra Corse’s Ferrari 488 GT3, in the Dutchman’s first laps in the turbocharged Prancing Horse. “It was really easy to adjust,” he told Sportscar365. “I did two laps and was bringing down the lap times quite quickly.”

***Van der Zande, who is yet to secure his 2020 full-season plans, said the run this weekend is a one-off with longtime friend Martin Fuentes, who has already clinched the GT World Challenge Am title. 

***The No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo is in a special chrome livery this weekend (pictured above). The change, according to Dane Cameron has been made “because it’s Vegas” owing to the city’s glitz and glamor.

***K-PAX Racing is “very disappointed” in USAC’s ruling that has upheld the results from last month’s second race at Road America. The California-based team initially protested the results with SRO America, prior to making an appeal to the sanctioning body, which came down with its final decision earlier this week.

***In a team statement, K-PAX said: “The Road America event produced a situation that confused the officials, the teams, the drivers, the announcers and the fans. It is unfortunate that a series mistake will decide the outcome of multiple championships.”

***Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari for Alessandro Balzan and Bret Curtis cannot score or take points away from the Pro-Am class this weekend, per a rule that prohibits new teams entering the final two events of the year from earning points.

***This technicality caught the series out in Pirelli GT4 America, which initially awarded SprintX East Pro-Am points to Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne at Watkins Glen International, and consequently provisionally handed the class title to Karl Wittmer.

***SRO America has since confirmed Stevan McAleer and Justin Raphael as the SprintX East Pro-Am champions, which concluded its season last month at Road America.

***Matt Campbell is running a special, glow-in-the-dark helmet this weekend, featuring Las Vegas-themed graphics, including dice, cards and the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas sign”.

***O’Connell and Law have partnered to launch Performance Track Day, envisioned as a “fantasy camp” for the automotive inclined that will see the two veteran drivers in new coaching roles. The launch event is scheduled for the new Apex Motor Club near Phoenix on Dec. 8 and will be limited to 30 guests.

***Nolasport has entered a second Porsche GT4 Cayman Clubsport MR for this weekend’s GT4 America Sprint races. The car is owned by Mike Vess and was not originally intended to be raced this weekend, with the team mainly intending to use it in test sessions.

***BRM Chronographes has created a limited-edition Flying Lizard Motorsports timepiece. Inspired by motorsport and driven by craftsmanship, BRM will release 15 watches with the iconic Flying Lizard Motorsports shield. The retail price of the piece is $9,650.00.

***This weekend’s ‘Grand Finale’ is being sponsored by R.U.N by Cirque du Soleil, a new production that’s set to open at the Luxor on Oct. 24. R.U.N is billed as the first “live-action thriller” by Cirque du Soleil and combines “real stunts, chases and combat” in an immersive show.

“We are excited to be partnering with Cirque du Soleil and R.U.N,” said Greg Gill, President and CEO of SRO America. “We felt the partnership had a perfect fit – our racing has an exotic and exhilarating feel, right on par with the theme of R.U.N.”

Ryan Myrehn & Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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