***It’s literally turned into a race against time for EFFORT Racing to make the grid this weekend with its No. 31 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The car, which sustained heavy damage in Sunday’s Race 2 at Circuit of The Americas, is currently at Alex Job Racing’s shop in Taveres, Fla., two hours north of St. Pete, undergoing repairs to the front and rear clips with a three-man crew.
***EFFORT Racing technical director Stefan Pfeiffer told Sportscar365 they had explored the possibility of borrowing a 911 GT3 R chassis for the weekend but a deal was not reached. Pfeiffer said the repaired car is not expected to arrive at the track until Friday and will likely turn its first laps during Saturday’s race.
***The team’s three other crew members, plus drivers Patrick Long and Michael Lewis, were at St. Pete on Thursday, with Long getting seat time in Lewis’ No. 41 entry in the one-hour test session. “This certainly helps but none of it is ideal. But you have to do the best with what you have,” Long told Sportscar365.
***PWC’s new strictly enforced officiating process has been a hot topic in the GT paddock, following multiple penalties imposed at COTA for driving standards. The two most-talked about penalties from last weekend involved Andrew Palmer and Alvaro Parente, who both lost out on potential podium finishes in Race 2.
***It’s understood Chief Driving Steward Brian Till reached out to both Palmer and Parente on Thursday to provide video footage and explain the reasoning for the penalties. The series, under new Chief Steward Peter Roberts, has adopted tighter-controlled FIA officiating standards this year.
***Race Director Dorsey Schroeder said during today’s drivers’ meeting that penalties will be more severe this weekend, due to the tight confines of the 14-turn 1.8-mile street track.
***The GTA field has been reduced to a two-car entry this weekend following the no-show of Jorge De La Torre’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. It leaves Frankie Montecalvo and COTA double race winner Martin Fuentes to battle for class honors.
***As a result, a total of 19 GT/GTA and 4 GT Cup cars are set for this weekend’s pair of 50-minute races.
***The No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 of Andrew Palmer did not set a time in Thursday’s practice session due to a brake issue. Palmer had unofficially set the sixth quickest time in the preceding test session.
***GT and GTA teams are running to the SRO’s Category D Balance of Performance this weekend. The new track-based BoP is split into four different categories, with COTA having been a Category B track. The PWC GT and GTS categories have fully adopted SRO’s BoP this year.
***Stephane Ratel will be arriving for this weekend’s event direct from the official Blancpain GT Series pre-season test at Paul Ricard, which wrapped up on Thursday. Ratel unveiled an impressive 31-car full-season entry list for the Blancpain GT Series this week, including 57 cars for the Endurance Cup season-opener at Monza.