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GT World Challenge America

California Thursday Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Thursday notebook from MRLS…

Photo: Bob Chapman/PCNA

***Fresh off of its victory at Motul Petit Le Mans, Audi Sport Team Land paced Thursday’s 100-minute test session ahead of the inaugural California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in its No. 29 Audi R8 LMS with drivers Connor de Phillippi, Christopher Mies, and Christopher Haase.

***RealTime Racing was second and third quickest, with the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 of Peter Kox, Mark Wilkins, and Jules Gounon edging the sister entry of Ryan Eversley, Tom Dyer, and Dane Cameron. Audi Sport Team Magnus and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT completed the top five overall.

***The No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R overcame an early-session alternator problem to top the GT3 Pro-Am category in eighth overall, with the No. 194 MARC Cars Australia Marc Mazda 3 V8 quickest in the Invitational class and the No. 3 TRG Aston Martin GT4 pacing GT4.

***The start of race has been moved up fifteen minutes to at 9:15 a.m. PT to better accommodate the television broadcast. The telecast for CBS Sport Network will feature two segments: from 9 a.m. PT to 11 a.m. PT and from 4 p.m. PT to 5:30 p.m. PT. The 11 a.m. PT to 4 p.m. PT segment of the California 8 Hours can be viewed on MotorTrend OnDemand at www.motortrendondemand.com.

***The final 2018 Pirelli World Challenge schedule is expected to be unveiled on Saturday. The preliminary calendar, with a pair of TBA events, was revealed during the final PWC GT weekend at Sonoma Raceway last month.

***PWC participant Magnus Racing, running this weekend under the Audi Sport Team Magnus moniker, will be racing the chassis that served as the No. 4 entry for Pierre Kaffer this season. Audi has taken an increased role with the team for this event, with Markus Winkelhock and Kelvin van der Linde set to join Kaffer behind the wheel of the renumbered No. 44.

***K-PAX Racing’s No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 has to be repaired following Alvaro Parente’s accident in last month’s PWC season-ending race at Sonoma. “It’s taken quite a bit of work to get the car ready for this race,” Program Manager Darren Law said. “The guys have been working hard to get it done but we are ready. As much as it would have been nice to not have to do this level of repair, it’s been good having all hands on deck at the shop as it keeps the crew working together and we have had time to practice pit stops.”

***The California 8 Hours marks the first endurance race for the Flying Lizard-run K-PAX team since last year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale in Sepang, where it also entered a single McLaren GT3 car.

***Jake Dennis, who is joining recently crowned Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champions Stuart Leonard and Robin Frijns in Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s entry, is coming off a debut victory in the Audi R8 LMS Cup season finale at Zhejiang last weekend. The 22-year-old Brit won Race 2, following a multi-car pileup in the opening round of the weekend in China.

***The No. 29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS is different chassis than the team ran last weekend. Team director Christian Land told Sportscar365 they have received a factory owned car for the event, as was the case at the Nürburgring 24, where it stormed to overall victory in its works-supported debut race. It’s Petit Le Mans-winning car is, however, in the paddock this weekend.

***Callaway founder Reeves Callaway is on-site this weekend for meetings with prospective U.S. customers for its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R, which is now eligible for competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge, following Cadillac’s exit from PWC.

***Callaway told Sportscar365 they have the capability to support up to two customer teams in North America next year, with a full engineering and spares support program also planned for the car.

***Cadillac, which pulled the plug on its PWC program last month, came close to running this weekend’s race, in what would have been a final send-off for the cars, and first endurance race. Sportscar365 understands that a two-car Cadillac ATS-V.R program for the California 8 Hours had been under consideration, but ultimately not given the green light due to a change in the pit stop regulations. 

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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