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GT World Challenge America

Indianapolis Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Indianapolis Motor Speedway…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO

***Selected Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and GT World Challenge America powered by AWS teams took the track Thursday for a 30-minute Bronze test session. A total of six cars set times, in what marked the first on-track action for competitors that are set to take part in Sunday’s inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour.

***Team WRT is in the “unusual” situation of competing on two different continents and two circuits which the team has never raced before, with the Belgian squad also present in this weekend’s ADAC GT Masters round at the Sachsenring.

***Audi Sport factory driver Frederic Vervisch will be subbing for fellow works driver Mirko Bortolotti in the GT Masters races due to Bortolotti taking part in the Indianapolis 8 Hour alongside Markus Winkelhock, who also typically drives in the German-based GT3 championship.

***Team principal Vincent Vosse, meanwhile, is at the Sachsenring this weekend.

***A number of drivers are fresh off from competing in last weekend’s Nürburgring 24, including Walkenhorst Motorsport’s Nicky Catsburg and Nick Yelloly, who along with Alexander Sims, claimed overall victory in a ROWE Racing-entered BMW M6 GT3.

***Catsburg and Augusto Farfus are being joined by BMW Team RLL ace Connor De Phillippi this weekend, with the team’s No. 35 BMW of Yelloly, Martin Tomczyk and David Pittard making its first start of the IGTC season after delays in sea-freight from last year’s Kyalami 9 Hour forced the German squad to enter only a single BMW in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

***Orange 1 FFF Racing Team owner Fu Songyang explained it was a “hard decision” to withdraw its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo from the Indy 8H but was largely made to focus the Italio-Chinese team’s efforts in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in order to avoid potential COVID-19 transmission while in the U.S.

***The team had planned a full-season IGTC program prior to the onset of the pandemic.

***Rodrigo Baptista is understood to still be traveling to Indianapolis despite having lost his ride with the GTWC America Pro-Am champions-elect Squadra Corse. The Brazilian, who was at the Spa test days for K-PAX Racing, is due to be replaced by Alessandro Balzan in Squadra Corse’s lineup this weekend.

***K-PAX Racing’s remaining crew that had taken part in the two-day test for the Total 24 Hours of Spa are scheduled to arrive tonight according to program manager Darren Law.

***The team’s No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 chassis being utilized this weekend has been previously run in only two race weekends, most recently in the GTWC America season-opener at Circuit of The Americas with Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, who were initially due to contest a full season.

***Law confirmed that Baptista and Jordan Pepper will swap cars for Spa in order to keep Pepper, Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet on the same IGTC points. The team’s lineup will return to its normal designations for the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season finale at Paul Ricard in November.

***K-PAX has yet to decide if it will continue its European program next year, while a return to GTWC America would hinge on the series accepting all-pro lineups again, which has been reportedly been one of several potential changes being considered for next year.

***Sportscar365 understands that GT Sports Club America is set to be added to the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint grid next year instead of continuing in the first 40 minutes of GTWC America races. It’s unclear if GT4 Sprint races will be reduced in length or GTSC will gain an additional ten minutes of drive time for its single-driver races.

***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel, along with technical director Claude Surmount, are on-site this weekend, marking their first time in a SRO America paddock this year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

***Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Pro-Am class title contender Matt Travis is getting extra seat time this week by also racing in the pair of GT4 Sprint races. Travis and Nolasport co-driver Jason Hart held a two-point lead in the standings heading into Thursday’s penultimate round of the season.

***Travis claimed GT4 Am class honors in Thursday’s race, finishing third overall after scoring a surprise pole position in his No. 48 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

 ***Michael Dinan will face a five-position grid penalty for GT4 Sprint Race 2 on Friday after having been deemed to have caused a collision with the No. 99 RecStuff Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Jeff Courtney in the opening laps of Thursday’s race.

***Dinan, who has earned a total of 15 class wins this year between Sprint and SprintX competition, clinched the GT4 Sprint Am title last time out at COTA.

***Mario and Michael Andretti cheered on Jarett Andretti from the pit lane on Thursday prior to the start of on-track activity for the NTT IndyCar Series. Jarett is the grand-nephew of the motorsports legend, who turned 80 this year.

***Frank Gannett is utilizing one of PF Racing’s Ford Mustang GT4s this weekend after his car was severely damaged in an accident at COTA. Gannett’s No. 24 car is the pink-liveried car typically seen in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with James Pesek and Chad McCumbee at the wheel.

***MarcoPolo Motorsports has expanded into a two-car KTM X-Bow GT4 operation this weekend with the addition of the Bronze-rated pairing of Dieter-Heinz Kijora and Vincent Piemonte in the No. 74 entry, which is also a 2020-spec model.

***The season-long No. 71 car of Nicolai Elghanayan and Mads Siljehaug underwent an engine change on Thursday morning and missed qualifying.

***Muellerized, which runs the MarcoPolo entries, became the exclusive North American sales and support partner for the KTM X-Bow GT4 in North America earlier this year.

***Parker Chase is again filling in for Preston Calvert in the No. 51 Panoz Racing Avezzano GT4, although unlike the Circuit of the America weekend. Chase is also due to contest the Indy 8H in CCR Team TFB’s BMW M4 GT4.

***Newly crowned GT4 Sprint Pro champion Michael Cooper, meanwhile, is set to pull triple duty between GT4 Sprint (Blackdog Speed Shop), GT4 SprintX (Flying Lizard Motorsports) and the Indy 8H (Motorsport USA), all in McLaren 570S GT4 machinery.

***The Toyota GR Supra GT4 is on display in the paddock this weekend, with representatives from TRD on-site to discuss sales of the car to GT4 America teams for next year. TRD general manager Tyler Gibbs told Sportscar365 last month that it was still working to confirm the size of the initial batch of cars that will be allocated to North America in 2021.

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

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