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COTA Thursday Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s Thursday PWC Notebook from Circuit of the Americas…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Cadillac Racing opted not to run the morning test session but was on course at Circuit of the Americas during the warmer afternoon session. The new ATS-V.R is running under a draft homologation from the FIA this weekend.

***All classes ran two sessions during Thursday’s promoter test, a 30-minute morning session followed by a 45-minute afternoon session. The schedule was pushed back one hour from the planned start times following the threat of impending freezing rain, which despite ambient temperatures in the 30s, never materialized at the circuit.

***The No. 99 JCR Motorsports Audi R8 LMS ultra posted the unofficial fastest time in the afternoon test session at 2:05.887, with two-time defending GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach shaking down the car. Jeff Courtney will run the GTA entry for the weekend. A transponder issue incorrectly listed the No. 30 NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 fastest in the second session, with an impossible-to-achieve 1:10.069 (the Formula 1 qualifying lap record, for reference, is 1:35.657 in 2012).

***Alex Lloyd took some laps in Mike Skeen’s No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra, to get up to speed in a current specification FIA GT3 car. Lloyd raced a handful of PWC events last year in CRP’s older specification Corvette. CRP also announced DeVilbiss as a new sponsor, and revealed a new orange livery on Skeen’s car.

***Nissan’s Wolfgang Reip is in attendance this weekend to assist AE Nissan GT Academy drivers James Davison and Bryan Heitkotter, in their first PWC weekend in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s. While not scheduled for any U.S. races at the moment, Reip told Sportscar365 that he’s optimistic of making an appearance on U.S. soil later this year.

***GMG Racing’s third GT car, and fourth total for the weekend, came together only within the last week for Madison Snow in the No. 21 Audi R8 LMS ultra. However team principal/driver James Sofronas had both the car – Andrew Palmer’s chassis from last year – and all available parts and spares pre-ready to go to account for the extra entry. Sofronas and Alex Welch are in the team’s two other Audis, with Alec Udell in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.

***Snow’s laps in Thursday’s opening test session marked his first time in an Audi R8 LMS ultra. The 19-year-old returns to PWC for the first time since 2012, when he made five starts. Right now, he is only confirmed for this weekend.

***TRG-AMR North America has purchased a new Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for Christina Nielsen’s GTA effort this year. The second car driven by Mark McKenzie is James Davison’s prior chassis from 2014, which the Australian took to four consecutive GT Daytona class poles in IMSA. McKenzie’s deal is just for this race weekend.

***Kevin Buckler’s TRG-AMR team is also assisting Jorge De La Torre’s efforts; the Mexican steps up from Buckler’s GTS program into GTA this year in a family-run effort, with another Aston Martin purchased from TRG-AMR.

***Besides Aschenbach and Lloyd, Jan Heylen also took laps during the test day. Heylen was in the No. 60 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, entered for Santiago Creel in GT Cup.

***Henrik Hedman, who finished second in GTA a year ago for DragonSpeed in a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, said the competition in the 21-car subcategory is vastly improved this year. “Last year was nothing compared to this,” said the Florida-based Swede, who will run one of three Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s for Elton Julian. Julian estimated the team ran roughly 50 laps of testing in at the track a couple weeks ago.

***Eduardo Cisneros’ No. 29 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car is the only Porsche in GT Cup that’s a 2014, 997-based chassis with an update kit. The remaining nine cars in class are the new 2015 991-specification model.

***Local driver Joseph Toussaint of Houston is running a one-off race this weekend in Autometrics Motorsports’ No. 90 Porsche 911 GT3 R in GTA. Toussaint is in the last 997 GT3 R chassis built by Porsche.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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