***The No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R arrived at the track Friday afternoon, following an extensive rebuild at Alex Job Racing’s shop in Taveres, Fla. Patrick Long will start the Porsche from the rear of the field on Saturday, in what will be the car’s first laps of the weekend.
***Teammate Michael Lewis put the No. 41 EFFORT Porsche on pole earlier today and will lead the 23-car GT/GTA/GT Cup field to the green.
***Alec Udell was the only other car not to set a time in qualifying, with the GMG Racing team still making small repairs to his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car following an accident in Thursday’s practice session. The team expects the car to race tomorrow.
***Udell is the lone GMG entry this weekend as the James Sofronas-owned team has split its efforts between St. Pete and the opening round of the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA at COTA.
***Sofronas told Sportscar365 that his new Porsche 911 GT3 R, which debuted last weekend, will return for the team’s home race at Long Beach next month.
***CRP Racing could switch to the new Audi R8 LMS later this year, according to Kyle Marcelli. “The team wants to go to a new car and there’s a possibility of that happening by mid-season. We’ll see what happens,” Marcelli told Sportscar365.
***Another new car that’s set to make its North American race debut is the Mercedes-AMG GT3, with DIME Racing reaffirming plans to have up to two of the new cars on the grid at the next round in Long Beach. The team is here this weekend again fielding a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for Frankie Montecalvo.
***With the Acura TLX GTs in its final year of eligibility in PWC, Honda Performance Development VP and COO Steve Eriksen has voiced his desire of finding another application for the cars. “I’d love to take the cars up Pikes Peak one of these days,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve kept all the all-wheel drive stuff so we could convert it back if we needed to.”
***The GTS class sees a reduced 14-car field this weekend following the withdrawal of Mantella Autosport, which had entered two KTM X-Bow GT4s for the season. Anthony Mantella was excluded from the COTA weekend after getting into a physical altercation with another driver following Race 1.
***Bentley Team Absolute has flown in a third Bentley Continental GT3, from its base in Zhuhai, China, although it will not replace Adderly Fong’s No. 88 car, which was damaged and repaired at COTA. Team director Ingo Matter told Sportscar365 that the third car will be on display in the paddock and be used as a spare chassis.
***Children’s Tumor Foundation has been named as the Official Children’s Charity of Pirelli World Challenge. CTF, through their Racing4Research program, has been a long-time fixture of the motorsport scene, having raised awareness and fund research for neurofibromatosis.
***Catch the TV broadcast of the PWC season-opening round from COTA on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. The two-hour show will include highlights from all classes that were in competition last weekend.