***Jason Bell’s No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 sustained right-front damage in Friday’s opening practice after an incident with a Ford Mustang GT4. Bell, however, returned to action in the afternoon session to set the 18th quickest time overall.
***Shane Lewis has been moved to the GT4 Pro class for this weekend’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint event, following a “temporary categorization” by SRO Motorsports America, in a bulletin released Friday afternoon. Lewis, a Bronze-rated driver by the FIA, was initially listed to compete in GT4 Am.
***Thomas Collingwood, who has not been classified by the FIA, meanwhile, has been given a provisional driver rating of Bronze this weekend. FIA Silver-rated drivers Jason Bell, Jarett Andretti and Michael Dinan, meanwhile, will all compete as Bronze* , which permits them to compete in the GT4 Am category.
***Ian Lacy has been a late addition to the entry list, with the team owner subbing for Drew Staveley in the No. 12 Ford Mustang GT4, with Staveley’s wife expecting the birth of their child this weekend. It marks Lacy’s debut in the series and his first appearance in SRO America-level competition since contesting a couple of TC races in 2015.
***The team is giving its two new Mustang GT4s their first outing in SRO America competition after starting the GT4 SprintX season with last year’s Ginetta G55 GT4s. One of the cars took part in January’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-opener at Daytona with Staveley and Frank Gannett at the wheel.
***Lacy is one of seven Pirelli GT4 America drivers making their St. Pete debuts this weekend. Andretti, Dinan, Collingwood, Alan Brynjolfsson, CJ Moses and Nicolai Elghanayan are all preparing to race on the 1.8-mile Florida street course for the first time.
***PF Racing is taking a race-by-race approach to its GT4 Sprint season, although it has two Mustang GT4s this weekend for Jade Buford and James Pesek. Pesek is driving the same chassis that claimed the first-ever victory for the platform at Daytona in 2017.
***Team owner JR Pesek told Sportscar365 that Friday morning’s practice session was used more-or-less as a shakedown, with newly installed engines and transmissions in both cars.
***SRO Motorsport Group’s Balance of Performance test at Paul Ricard is set for this Sunday. Unlike last year’s running, which was hampered by snow, significantly better conditions are forecast, with temperatures in the mid-60s and only a 10 percent chance of rain.
***Former IMSA technical director Scott Raymond has joined SRO as part of its “reinforced” technical department. While still under the leadership of Claude Surmont, the organization has expanded its staff in the wake of increased series and platforms.
***Despite his new role, Raymond is understood to have retained his position as the BoP chief for VLN, which runs under a different system.
***Robinson Racing is adapting to a taller-sized Pirelli P Zero tire for the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R this year, in a SRO homologation update to the Pratt & Miller-built car. Shane Lewis told Sportscar365 that it’s resulted in challenges with the car’s gearing.
***The team completed a back-to-back test with the old and new tire, which is the same size run on the Mustang GT4s, at Homestead-Miami Speedway and also tested the cars at Sebring last week prior to arriving at St. Pete.
***Lewis said they were prepared to run in GT4 SprintX this year, with its third Camaro GT4 chassis, although called off plans when it became apparent the races would remain at 60 minutes in length. “If the races had been longer in SprintX (like GT3), we would have done it,” he told Sportscar365. “Gar [Robinson] and I have a lot of fun driving together in the same car but it’s just too short for us.”
***Tony Gaples revealed that his feet got cold during his initial test in the McLaren 570S GT4 last month, owing to the car’s mid-engined design and powerful air-conditioning system.
***The pair of Camaro GT4s that Blackdog Speed Shop ran last year are up for sale, according to team manager Ray Sorenson. “Both cars are ready to go. We had them prepped for the season [before the switch to McLaren],” Sorenson told Sportscar365.
***Team Panoz Racing engineer Stefan Pfeiffer is back with the operation this weekend after missing Circuit of The Americas due to his new commitments with the Lucas Luhr-managed Ring Police team, which is set for a dual VLN and ADAC GT Masters program in a Pro-Am class Porsche 911 GT3 R.
***Pfeiffer told Sportscar365 he plans to be with Panoz for all of the remaining rounds except Portland, which is a GT4 SprintX-only race and currently sees only a single team entry for Preston Calvert and Matt Keegan.
***As was the case last weekend at Circuit of The Americas, both the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport and Panoz Avezzano GT have been permitted to race despite the cars not yet having completed SRO GT4 homologation.
***The No. 21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport will have a new livery in the next round at Long Beach in April, although is not expected to be in the team’s signature Flying Lizard design.
***A number of teams entered in full Sprint and SprintX seasons look set to utilize seperate cars for each series when the two series compete on the same weekends. Both Park Place Motorsports and Andretti Autosport have already taken this approach between COTA and St. Pete.
***While the next GT4 rounds, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Long Beach, will be GT4 East and GT4 Sprint-only, the six remaining GT4 Sprint events will all be on SprintX weekends, making it a busy weekend for teams and drivers pulling double duty.
***Qualifying for the opening GT4 Sprint race of the season is set for Saturday at 9:15 a.m. ET, with Race 1 getting underway at 4:10 p.m. ET and Race 2 on Sunday at 11:25 a.m. Both races will be streamed live on World-Challenge.com and on the GT World YouTube page.
***CBS Sports Network will air a recap of the races on March 21 at 8 p.m. ET, with an encore airing on March 21 at 9 p.m. ET.
Ryan Myrehn and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report