***Cadillac Racing topped the time sheets in Thursday’s test day, with Johnny O’Connell reeling off an unofficial lap time of 2:05.999 in his Velocity Red-liveried No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R in the morning. O’Connell’s time was 0.183 seconds quicker than teammate Michael Cooper, who paced the afternoon session.
***Patrick Long was third quickest overall in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. Martin Fuentes (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) led GTA, while the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Anthony Imperato paced GT Cup. All times are unofficial heading into tomorrow’s official practice sessions.
***The biggest incident of the day came from Adderly Fong, who crashed his No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 heavily in the morning session. Fong was uninjured but the car sustained significant damage in the rear and side.
***Bentley Team Absolute team director Fabien Fior told Sportscar365 that a spare floor and other parts will have to be flown in from overseas. Although the car did not sustain chassis damage, it’s understood the car is being taken to a local body shop tonight, with the hope of getting everything put back together in time for qualifying on Saturday.
***The entry list has seen some additions and revisions since last week. A total of 19 GT cars and 7 GTA cars are now set to take part, along with an expanded grid of 7 GT Cup cars. Among the additions include Duncan Ende in a TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and an Autometrics Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (997) for Joseph Toussaint, in GTA.
***All 102 entries between the seven classes are set up in the main paddock this weekend, made possible due to the cancellation of the SRO’s Six Hours of The Americas, which was due to take place this weekend as the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
***Ende’s drive with TRG-AMR is only confirmed for this weekend and St. Pete, although team principal Kevin Buckler told Sportscar365 that he’s hopeful of expanding it into additional PWC races. The team has two Aston Martin Vantage GT4s entered for the full season in GTS.
***Tim Pappas was initially listed and had planned to run his Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R but elected last week to focus on his IMSA commitments in the build up to the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team’s Viper remains for sale and is eligible for both series.
***The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will not make its North American race debut this weekend, with DIME Racing still awaiting delivery of its new cars. Team principal Rod Shegem told Sportscar365 that they now anticipate a debut at Long Beach.
***The team, however, is present this weekend with a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for 2015 GTA champion Frankie Montecalvo, who has stepped up to the GT class. The car suffered an axle failure in Thursday morning’s test session.
***While James Sofronas and Brent Holden are both listed in the No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, only Sofronas will drive this weekend. The team, along with EFFORT and Calvert Dynamics are debuting Porsche’s new 991-based GT3 contender this weekend.
***SRO Motorsports Group has a significant presence at COTA this weekend, with technical director Claude Surmont and sporting director Jacquie Groom on-site, along with the expected presence of company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.
***While not competing in PWC this year, Ryan Dalziel is on-site this weekend as a driver coach for TruSpeed Autosport’s Sloan Urry. Urry returns to the GT Cup class after finishing second in the 2015 championship with 13 podium finishes.
***A number of other drivers are in the paddock in coaching roles, including Guy Cosmo (M1 GT Racing), Jan Heylen (Wright Motorsport) and Jeff Segal (ANSA Motorsports), who are all without full-season rides.
***Mike Skeen, who was only notified last week of his departure from CRP Racing, is also on-site and hoping to piece together a partial-season PWC program. He told Sportscar365 that he’s working on a return to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, after taking part in the event in 2014 in a heavily modified Nissan GT-R.