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GT World Challenge America

Utah Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday PWC notebook from Utah…

Photo: John Dagys

***Jeroen Bleekemolen set the pace in Thursday’s promoter test day for SprintX competitors, with the Dutchman taking the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a quick lap of 1:49.003 in the second session. The No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 completed the unofficial top-three on the day.

***All three times from the afternoon were quicker than the morning’s pace-setting time from the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Peter Kox and Mark Wilkins, which was unofficially clocked at a 1:49.337 lap.

***The No. 88 Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 missed the morning session due to a gearbox sensor issue, with Vincent Abril getting his first laps of Utah Motorsports Campus in the afternoon. The Bentley factory driver is fresh off a runner-up finish in last month’s Total 24 Hours of Spa with the M-Sport squad.

***The No. 07 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which was again on the entry list, is a no-show, with the Las Vegas-based team again focusing its efforts on the No. 55 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo entry for Yuki Harara and Alessandro Bressan, which leads the SprintX GT Cup points.

***Longtime TRG drivers Drew Regitz and Kris Wilson, meanwhile, have teamed up in the No. 013 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in GT Am-Am, a class that also sees the return of M1 GT Racing with its Audi R8 LMS for James Dayson and Jason Bell.

***A total of 32 cars are currently on the SprintX entry list, although Truspeed Autosport is working to enter one of its Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars for Tom Haacker and Sloan Urry. Urry told Sportscar365 that he’s hopeful of the last-minute deal materializing, which would mark his first pro start of the year.

***Urry teamed with Haacker and James Slavik to win last weekend’s NASA Utah 6 Hour Western Endurance Racing Championship at Utah Motorsports Campus, also in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

***Memo Gidley made a welcome return to the PWC paddock on Thursday, as the Californian turned laps in TKO Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R, which was entered for the test day only. It’s understood the Dave Traitel-owned team is eyeing an entry for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway next month.

***RealTime Racing lent a helping hand to fellow Acura squad Michael Shank Racing during last weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America, when its No. 93 Acura was rebuilt following a heavy crash. RTR team manager Nathan Bonneau and crew chief Michael Busalacchi assisted with the efforts.

***The GTS grid has been reduced to an 17-car entry for this weekend, with the sole ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 of Bill Ziegler not turning up. It marks the first time since 2014 that the Florida-based team, which won the drivers’ championship last year with Brett Sandberg, is missing a PWC weekend, and first since moving into the GTS category last year.

***Mantella Autosport again fields only a single X-Bow for Martin Barkey due to Anthony Mantella’s suspension for an off-track altercation at Lime Rock Park in May. Mantella has been suspended until the end of the season, according to a PWC spokesperson.

***Craig Stanton is back in the PWC paddock, in a unique one-off entry from DG-Spec Racing, which is giving the Toyota GT86 Cup car its North American race debut in TCA. The TMG-built car, which was on display at the SEMA Show last year, has recently made appearances at auto shows across North America.

***The former PWC TC championship-winning team, led by Dan Gardner, has salvaged parts from a Scion FRS used in the 2016 Toyota Pro Celebrity race that was driven by Mike Skinner, for spares. A sign reading “Drive Like Earnhardt Would” that came from Skinner’s car is on the shifter of Stanton’s Toyota.

***Stanton is doing double duty, as he is also the series-provided driver coach for Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA, which is staging round 5 of their 2017 championship at UMC this weekend as part of the PWC event.

***Pirelli’s new-for-2017 P-Zero DHD compound is likely to be introduced into PWC in 2018. Multiple team sources have indicated that the tire, which debuted in the Blancpain GT Series this year, would replace the DHC compound currently used on all GT3 cars. PWC Director of Competition Marcus Haselgrove told Sportscar365 that it would be a decision that would come from the tire manufacturer, and that no announcements have been made.

***Having being a marked improvement and step forward in development, the DHD compound has typically excelled on front-engined cars in Blancpain GT, with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and to a lesser extent, the Audi R8 LMS and McLaren 650S GT3 occasionally struggling to find the same balance.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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