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GT World Challenge America

COTA Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from SRO America action at Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: John Dagys

***The No. 08 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo returned to action in Practice 2 after Scott Smithson suffered an accident in the closing stages of opening practice, damaging the left-front of the Pro-Am class contender.

***It was the only incident to bring out a red flag on Friday between the pair of Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS sessions, although an accident for James Walker Jr. resulted in a stoppage in the second Pirelli GT4 America practice.

***Toyota Racing Development driver Jesse Love has replaced Isabella Robusto in the No. 67 Smooge Racing Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO this weekend, with Robusto still recovering from a concussion sustained in a Late Model race prior to the last round at NOLA Motorsports Park.

***Tony Ave, whose Ave Motorsports squad is involved in helping operate the Smooge team, was initially due to sub for Robusto but stood down on Friday, paving the way for the 18-year-old Love to make his GT4 America debut.

***ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race director Scot Elkins is again serving as a race steward this weekend following his first outing with SRO America at NOLA Motorsports Park last month. Elkins has been joined by Randy Hembrey, the director of road racing for USAC, and sports car racing legend Elliot Forbes Robinson alongside steward chairman John Walsh.

***Twenty-two teams were fined $500 each for missing the event’s logistics briefing on Wednesday, which was mandatory for a representative from each team per the series’ sporting regulations. “Teams are cautioned that further violation of the briefing regulations will carry escalating fines,” a statement from the stewards read.

***The minimum pit stop time for GTWC America has been confirmed at 76 seconds this weekend with GT4 America cars required to not exceed 81 seconds from pit-in to pit-out. The drive through penalty equivalent, meanwhile, has been established as 41 seconds.

***A number of GT4 America teams are set up in the support paddock this weekend, resulting in some consternation from competitors given the distance to the pit lane. The new-for-2023 Toyota GR Cup, meanwhile, is staged in the main paddock.

***GMG Racing is slated to debut Kyle Washington’s new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 R at Road America in August according to team principal James Sofronas, who said it’s currently undecided if it will run in GTWC America or GT America powered by AWS that weekend.

***The team confirmed plans to Sportscar365 of entering next month’s CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa in a Car Collection Motorsport-run Porsche that will feature Sofronas, Washington and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

***Work continues on the sports car racing docuseries produced by Toni Calderon and Brad Peyton, which completed casting calls at both Sebring International Raceway and Sonoma Raceway recently. Calderon told Sportscar365 that 75 interviews were filmed over the IMSA and SRO America weekends, with the target to begin production at the end of the year.

***OGH Motorsports and Valkyrie Velocity have split after one event. The No. 97 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport continues to be driven by Sean Gibbons and Sam Owen but now run out of a different tent, with Valkyrie Velocity focusing on a two-car program moving forward.

***Will Owen is juggling his driving duties in the No. 95 Valkyrie Velocity Porsche with a full-time job at Austin-based AI firm Valkyrie, where he serves as the ‘Entrepreneur in Training’ and works as CEO Charlie Burgoyne’s “right hand guy.”

***Owen told Sportscar365: “The way it’s tied into racing is so interesting because part of the entrepreneurship is thinking about racing and Valkyrie together and what AI we can bring to the racing paddock and how we can promote our brand. It comes together in an interesting nexus at the race track.”

***Valkyrie will have upwards up 40 guests on-site this weekend.

***Black Swan Racing’s Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen took part in last weekend’s Spa Classic at the wheel of a Porsche 911, with the duo finishing sixth in the Two-Liter Porsche Cup race. The Peter Auto-organized event featured the Endurance Racing Legends series.

***While official attendance numbers have not yet released, it’s understood that ticket pre-sales are considerably ahead of previous SRO America events at COTA, with an event record crowd expected this weekend at home of the U.S. F1 Grand Prix.

***Qualifying for the pair of GTWC America races is set to begin Saturday at 9 a.m. CT, which along with Race 1 (3:10 p.m. CT) will be covered live on SRO’s GT World YouTube page. The first 60-minute GT4 America race, at 5 p.m. CT, will also be broadcast on the channel by the regular commentary team of Ryan Myrehn, Calvin Fish and Amanda Busick.

***Sunday’s schedule sees GT4 America Race 2 take the green flag at 10:50 a.m. CT prior to the second and final 90-minute GTWC America race of the weekend at 2:15 p.m. CT.

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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