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GT World Challenge America

Mid-Ohio Thursday Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Thursday notebook from Mid-Ohio…

Photo: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

***Bentley Team Absolute has skipped this weekend’s round due to driver conflicts. Adderly Fong, who claimed a breakthrough first PWC win last month at Road America, is taking part in this weekend’s China GT Championship round in Zhuhai. Fong was unable to get out of his commitments due to the series’ mandate of at least one Chinese driver per car. It’s understood that Yufeng Luo, who missed the Road America round, was also not available.

***A Bentley spokesperson told Sportscar365 that Absolute will return for the remainder of the PWC season, with factory driver Vince Abril set to rejoin Fong in the No. 88 car for the next SprintX round of the season at Utah Motorsports Campus in August.

***K-PAX Racing returns to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after dominating the Saturday race at the track a year ago, with Alvaro Parente leading his teammate Austin Cindric home for a McLaren 1-2. Bryan Sellers will be Parente’s lone teammate this weekend, after it was recently announced that the third McLaren 650S GT3 that Mike Hedlund had campaigned in the GTA class would not take part in the rest of the season.

***It appears to be a two-horse race for the PWC GT class Sprint championship, with Patrick Long leading defending series champion Alvaro Parente by 17 points with four Sprint rounds to go. Johnny O’Connell is 40 points in arrears in third, followed by Michael Cooper and Daniel Mancinelli, who are tied for fourth. GMG Racing driver James Sofronas holds an 18-point margin in the GTA category over Magnus Racing’s John Potter, while Preston Calvert holds a narrow lead in the GT Cup standings.

***Lawson Aschenbach heads into the weekend at Mid-Ohio with a firm grasp on the GTS championship, holding the top spot by a full 68 points over Martin Barkey. Despite the massive margin, Aschenbach is looking for his first win of the season in the series, and the first PWC win for the Black Dog Speed Shop-run Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.

***Oddly enough, neither of the top-two in points has recorded a win through ten races, and there are just four race wins shared between the top-four drivers: third-place Rodrigo Baptista swept the weekend at Lime Rock, and fourth-place Ian James won in both starts at Road America.

***The next highest race winner in the standings is Jade Buford in twelfth, who has competed in just for races with Racers Edge Motorsports. Buford won both races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in May.

***Andrew Aquilante (St. Petersburg) and Nico Jamin (Virginia International Raceway) both swept GTS weekends earlier in the season. Every GTS race winner so far in 2017 has won both races of the weekend.

***For the first time since 2012, the traditional Flying Lizard Motorsports liveried Porsches will return to Mid-Ohio with two Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR cars entered in the GTS field for drivers Rodrigo Baptista and Nate Stacy. The team has shown great success at the track in the past, boasting five wins and three additional podium finishes from 2004 to 2012.

***For the second consecutive year, Spencer Pumpelly got the call up to take part in the PWC races at Mid-Ohio. Last year he replaced RealTime Racing team owner Peter Cunningham, who stepped aside to help in the development of the new Acura NSX GT3. This year, Pumpelly is deputizing with Magnus Racing, filling in for Pierre Kaffer who is racing in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Pumpelly has served as Kaffer’s co-driver in the SprintX rounds so far this season in the No. 4 Audi R8 LMS.

***Mid-Ohio is an important venue for RealTime Racing and Acura, as it is located less than 90 minutes from Honda’s Performance Manufacturing center where the NSX is built. Thousands of Honda employees are expected to be at the track to support the team this weekend.

***Drivers Ryan Eversley and Peter Kox are chasing the car’s first PWC win. The Acura NSX GT3 made its public debut during last year’s event with Kox at the controls, in a test day session.

***Honda announced at Spa on Thursday that it will make the NSX GT3 available to customers worldwide, including the North American market, beginning next year. An initial batch of 12 cars will be built to be sold, with initial deliveries beginning in October and running through the end of February. 

***Eversley, meanwhile, has announced his popular “Dinner With Racers” podcast, which he co-hosts with motorsports public relations guru Sean Heckman, will be back for a third season.

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is a pit reporter for SRO America's TV coverage as well as for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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