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Blancpain GT America

Watkins Glen Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Watkins Glen…

Photo: PWC Twitter

***Pirelli World Challenge cars assembled for an annual group photo on Thursday evening. A total of 80 cars are entered in this weekend’s season finale, totaling 27 manufacturers and 34 different models in one of the most diverse paddocks in all of motorsports.

***The Acura NSX GT3, which makes its first start of the season, is running in near-identical Balance of Performance specification to last month’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, with the only change being a 5 kg reduction in minimum weight.

***The car, however, has 200 mbar of additional boost compared to last year’s PWC round at Road America, which is also a Category B track, following BoP adjustments made over the winter. “In working with the SRO and FIA, we think we have the car where it needs to be competitive,” NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger told Sportscar365. 

***Niffenegger said the purpose of this weekend’s one-off  event is to show the car’s potential in PWC competition for prospective customers. “We’ve shown that in ADAC [GT Masters] but we need to show that in North America. Customers are very regional,” he explained.

***While entered by HART, the Mario Farnbacher-driven Acura is receiving engineering support from Meyer Shank Racing, along with logistical assistance from RealTime Racing, which has lent its transporter for use this weekend.

***Parker Chase’s absence, due to family matters, has resulted in a 12-car GT field for this weekend’s Sprint and overall season finale. 

***Aside from the newly established BoP for the Acura, the only other adjustment to the GT class since the last Category B track at Road America is a slight turbo boost decrease for the Bentley Continental GT3s at the 6500-7000 RPM levels. Weight and power adjustments had also been given to the Audi R8 LMS GT3, although the car is no longer entered due to TruSpeed Autosport’s late withdrawal.

***Wholesale BoP changes in minimum weight have been made in GTS since Road America: Audi R8 LMS GT4 (-5 kg), BMW M4 GT4 (-45 kg), Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R (-15 kg), Ford Mustang GT4 (+5 kg), Ginetta G55 GT4 (+30 kg), Mercedes-AMG GT4 (-20 kg), Panoz Avezzano GT4 (+30 kg), Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (-8 kg), SIN R1 GT4 (+5 kg) and McLaren 570S GT4 (+ 45 kg).

***Several ride height adjustments have also been handed out to cars across the GTS class.

***PWC competitors have rolled into Watkins Glen for the first time since 2010, when a round, in support of IndyCar, was held on Fourth of July Weekend. Ron Fellows claimed the GT victory that race, in a Chevrolet Corvette, while Peter Cunningham and Robert Stout picked up GTS and TC honors, respectively.

***Patrick Gallagher is filling in for Vinnie Allegretta in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 this weekend, following Allegretta’s heavy opening lap accident at Utah Motorsports Complex that resulted in several broken ribs. Allegretta, however, is expected to be on-site to support the team.

***The No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4, meanwhile, sees Mike Hedlund back behind the wheel after skipping the Utah round.

***Alvaro Parente is fresh off a second place finish in last weekend’s Suzuka 10 Hours. The Portuguese ace, who currently sits fifth in the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ championship, was confirmed on Wednesday as part of K-PAX Racing’s lineup for the season-ending round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in October.

***Newly named GT race director Alain Adam is on-site, along with SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel, for further meetings and planning for 2019. Adam, who is missing his first Blancpain GT Series race in recent memory with this weekend’s Sprint Cup round at the Hungaroring, has been tasked with assembling a new dedicated race control for PWC’s GT3-based class next year.

***Further details on the sporting regulations for the GT class is expected to be discussed Friday evening during a stakeholder’s meeting. It’s understood a more formalized 2019 schedule could also be released during the weekend. 

***Pirelli has become the first tire company to join the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund, pledging a contribution of $600,000 (2018-2019) to help the fund in its efforts to make a significant impact in global road safety. The company’s Chief Sustainability and Risk Governance Officer, Filippo Bettini, was nominated to have a seat on the fund’s Advisory Board.

***Track action gets underway on Friday with a pair of practice sessions for both GT and GTS Sprint competitors tomorrow, with qualifying and the first of two 50-minute races set for Saturday.

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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