***Patrick Long’s victory on Saturday was the maiden win for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, in only its second race as a complete package. The car made its competition debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. “It’s certainly a proud moment having been a small part of development but knowing how many thousands of hours that has been put into this car,” Long told Sportscar365.
***Bryan Heitkotter will start from the pole in tomorrow’s second and final GT/GTA/GT Cup race of the weekend, thanks to setting the quickest time un Saturday’s opening round. Long will line up second, ahead of the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R of Johnny O’Connell in third.
***Alvaro Parente’s K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 was taken to a small track outside of Austin on Friday evening to help diagnose a nagging electrical issue that began on Thursday. Under darkening skies, Parente completed a shakedown prior to it being transported back on a flat-bed to COTA around 8:30 p.m. Parente finished sixth in Race 1.
***Porsche Motorsport North America President Jens Walther doesn’t expect any additional Porsche 911 GT3 Rs this year in either PWC or IMSA, as the German manufacturer has already reached the production capacity of 40 cars for this year. “We’re already talking to teams about 2017,” Walther told Sportscar365.
***PWC President and CEO Greg Gill told Sportscar365 it’s his intention for the 2017 season to again kick off at COTA, in what would be a continuation of a multi-year agreement with the track. “I like this State and I especially like this weather,” Gill told Sportscar365.
***Gill anticipates a similar schedule next year, although is looking to eliminate two of the three back-to-back weekends that’s currently on this year’s calendar. “We’ve always had the issue with Barber and Long Beach. I don’t see how I can continue that in the future. I don’t like that situation and I don’t believe that’s fair to our teams so we have to look at that,” he said.
***Denton, Tex.-based GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing has a strong presence this weekend, with 700 GAINSCO employees, independent insurance agents, friends and family on hand to support the No. 99 McLaren of Jon Fogarty. The team is set for its first full-season since 2013 when it took part in GRAND-AM.
***M1 GT Racing is planning a limited PWC schedule with its new Audi R8 LMS, with only the Barber round confirmed beyond its commitment to the three-race Sprint-X Cup with Walt Bowlin and Guy Cosmo. The team will also take part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July.
***Both of the Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s are still running in 2014 specification. Team manager Ian Willis told Sportscar365 they could upgrade to all-new 2015 cars over the course of the season if they’re able to sell their existing cars. Plans for a potential third entry have yet to materialize.
***Scuderia Corsa team principal Giacomo Mattioli told Sportscar365 they have no current plans to expand beyond it single Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 entry for Martin Fuentes. The team had entered up to three Ferraris in the series last year but attribute rising operating costs in the series as a reason for reduced customer interest.
***While standing starts have been eliminated in the GT/GTA/GT Cup races, both GTS and the TC classes will continue to have one standing start and one rolling start per weekend.
***GT teams are running on a new version of the Pirelli P-Zero tire this year. While having previously used the same tire used in the Blancpain Sprint Series, PWC teams have been switched to the DHC compound, the same tire utilized in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
***Thirty nine drivers are PWC rookies heading into this weekend’s season-opener. The list includes some accomplished world-renowned drivers such as McLaren factory driver Alvaro Parente, as well as American road racing veteran Andrew Davis.
***Tony Gaples is celebrating his 150th series start this weekend. The PWC stalwart received a special award and recognition during Friday’s driver’s meeting. Gaples returns to the GTS class with his Black Dog Racing Camaro Z/28.R.