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Blancpain GT America

VIR Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday SRO America notebook from Virginia International Raceway…

Photo: John Dagys

***The No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R completed limited laps in Friday’s opening Blancpain GT World Challenge America practice session after encountering a splitter issue with the brand-new chassis, according to team principal John Wright.

***A new car was built up following Anthony Imperato’s accident in private testing at VIR two weeks ago, with the Ohio-based team receiving the replacement chassis from Porsche Motorsport in Germany last Tuesday, and spending the remainder of the week building up the new car.

***Wright credits Porsche’s extensive support infrastructure for making it a straightforward process. “That’s the support system of Porsche,” he told Sportscar365. “Thanks to the guys in Germany and PMNA. They all went to work when we were in need.”

***Preston Calvert was initially given dispensation to drive solo in the No. 51 Panoz Avezzano GT4 after Matt Keegan was ruled out of the weekend due to a health-related issue. However, a subsequent bulletin by SRO America rescinded the allowance after the team informed the series that Keegan would in fact race.

***Keegan and Calvert currently lead the GT4 SprintX Am championship, with Keegan understood to be arriving tonight in anticipation for tomorrow’s race.

***Friday’s combined GT4 Sprint and SprintX practice sessions resulted in a unique set of rules for cars competing in both series this weekend. Cars were required to run with the heaviest ballasted weight out of the two series in the pair of 45-minute sessions.

***Similar rules will be in place for qualifying tomorrow. In addition to the weight rules, cars will not be allowed to refuel between sessions, although will be permitted to change tires and remain in the pit lane.

***A total of five cars are set to pull double-duty between the four GT4 races this weekend: No. 91 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4, No. 44 Kelly-Moss Racing Audi GT4, No. 22 Precision Driving BMW M4 GT4, No. 92 Classic BMW GT4 and No. 69 BGB Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

***The minimum pit lane delta for Blancpain GT America this weekend is 60 seconds, with a 71-second required time for the GT4 SprintX/East pit stops. 

***MarcoPolo Motorsports is running a brand-new KTM X-Bow GT4 for Nicolai Elghanayan this weekend following a ‘Frankenstein’ version that was utilized at Long Beach after Elghanayan’s accident in St. Pete Race 2.

***SRO America competitors took part in a shooting range event on Thursday evening, on VIR’s property, in promotion of event sponsor Henry Repeating Arms, a rifle maker. 

***The series has entered a new partnership with Honda and Acura in the supply of safety and medical cars for the remainder of the season. An Acura NSX will serve as the safety car for this weekend’s action.

***The Sonoma Raceway round in June could utilize the circuit’s full 2.52-mile course for the first time, it has been revealed. SRO America President and CEO Greg Gill told Sportscar365 they are “very interested” in that possibility although a final decision has yet to be made.

***World Challenge had previously been limited to the 2.385-mile layout used on IndyCar weekends. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, meanwhile, will return to running the renowned ‘Carousel’ version of the circuit in June.

***K-PAX Racing received its third new-gen Bentley Continental GT3 chassis last week according to team manager Thomas Blam, who told Sportscar365 that it will be shaken down in early June prior to the Sonoma event.

***Program manager Darren Law said the team has received initial inquiries from prospective clients to potentially run the car later this season, although nothing has been in the advanced stages of negotiations.

***Bentley is set to have a large presence at Sonoma, with a number of off-track events for invited guests in celebration of the British manufacturer’s centenary. It will include ride-and-drives through the Napa Valley, as well as a hospitality unit at the track, according to Law.

***A total of 15 new-gen Bentley GT3s have been sold to date, according to a Bentley spokesperson, who confirmed the target of selling 40 cars globally.

***A brand-new Honda Civic Type-R TCR car is on display in the RealTime Racing tent this weekend. The Honda Performance Development-owned chassis is the ninth Type-R TCR now in North America.

***Of note, VGMC Racing’ Honda competing this weekend is understood to be a second-hand car from Europe that’s been imported to the U.S. and not purchased through HPD, the car’s designated distributor for North America.

***The FIA’s proposed dual-platform set of GT3 regulations for 2022 now appears to be off, following a recent manufacturer meeting that has instead led to an expected tightening and enforcement of the technical regulations around the existing platform.

***Sportscar365 understands that the initial proposal created significant backlash among current GT3 manufacturers. 

***Saturday’s race action kicks off with TC (12:10 p.m. EDT), followed by GT4 Sprint (1:05 p.m.), GT3 (2:10 p.m.), TCR/TCA (3:55 p.m. ET) and GT4 SprintX/East (4:50 p.m.), with all races streamed live on SRO’s GT World YouTube page.

***Qualifying for all series will also be streamed live on Saturday morning, beginning at 8:30 a.m. 

***While Race 2 for Blancpain GT America will be broadcast live on CBSSN, beginning Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT, tape-delayed coverage of the GT4 SprintX/East and Sprint action will air on May 11 beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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