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VIR Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday PWC notebook from VIR…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Photo: Brian Cleary/

***Andrew Davis has been a late call-up to the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi R8 LMS, subbing for team owner Mike McCann, who is sick. The entry has been moved up to the GT Pro-Pro class as a result, with 13 cars now in the top category for this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season-opener.

***Larry Pegram has replaced David Ostella in the No. 23 M1GT Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra alongside James Dayson, which will now compete for GT Am-Am class honors. Both Ostella and Dion von Moltke have been on-site with the team, although von Moltke told Sportscar365 there were no plans for him to race this weekend.

***The team is running its previous-generation Audi as its 2016-spec car undergoes repairs following a massive accident in a FARA race over the winter. Von Moltke said M1GT could return to a two-car operation at the next round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in May.

***No fewer than a half-dozen cars sustained damage between today’s pair of SprintX practice sessions, although none are understood to be weekend-ending incidents. The No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Andrea Montermini, which sustained moderate rear-end damage in opening practice, and likely the worst-damaged of the cars, returned to action in the afternoon.

***Saturday’s SprintX race is set for a 33-car grid, with both the GT Cup Pro-Am class Precision Driving Ferrari Challenge Evo and No. 47 NOLAsport Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR not present not present on Friday and assumed as no-shows.

***As expected, Cadillac Racing has nominated Ricky Taylor to the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R alongside Johnny O’Connell, with Jordan in the No. 8 entry with full-season driver Michael Cooper. The Taylor brothers had started the weekend in their respective entries. The Caddys struggled on Friday, posting the 10th and 13th quickest times in the second practice.

***There are a handful of changes to the SprintX rules for this year, the biggest being the debut of the GT Pro-Pro class and the late addition of a 30-second minimum pit stop time for the all-pro lineups.

***While the pit window remains between 25-35 minutes in each race, it now opens on the preceding lap to the 25-minute mark. Each car must take the flag on the starter’s stand before being able to pit for the mandatory driver change.

***Points have also been adjusted, with each driver pairing earning equal points based on the end-of-race finishing position. Last year’s system awarded points per a driver’s individual stint.

***Qualifying and pit stop rules remain relatively unchanged, with Am drivers required to qualify and Pro-Pro and Am-Am lineups able to decide on their qualifying driver. All qualifying drivers must start Race 1, with their co-driver starting Race 2. The grid for Race 2 is set on fastest laps from the first race.

***Pro-Am and Am-Am drivers have a minimum pit stop of 60 seconds, with Pro-Pro pairings now at a mandated 30 seconds. Total pit times are calculated by the pit-in to pit-out times, with a 30-second pit lane delta added to all minimum times.

***The No. 92 MCC Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 for father-and-son Alexandre Negrao Sr./Jr. is being run under the ANSA Motorsports tent. The Alain Nadal-owned team is again also fielding its pair of KTM X-Bow GT4s, but for for Mazda Road to Indy star Nico Jamin and 15-year-old Ricco Shlaimoun, who both make their series debuts.

***Shlaimoun becomes one of the youngest-ever starters in PWC history this weekend. Nate Stacy, however, remains the youngest, at 14 years and two months old when he debuted in TCB.

***While only having a single Maserati GT4 racing this weekend, JCR Motorsports will expand into a two-car GTS operation beginning with next month’s round at CTMP, with Fred Roberts set to join team owner/driver Jeff Courtney.  “I look forward to the advantages of having a two-car effort,” Courtney said. “With two cars, there’s data sharing, quicker feedback to make changes and the all-around environment of having a teammate, plus you’re pushing each other to be better.”

***Panoz will remain racing only a single Avezzano GT until teething issues have been worked out on the car, according to team manager Tom Milner. “If you want to do brain surgery, and you don’t exactly know what you’re doing, you have one patient and you try it out and see how it works. You wouldn’t do brain surgery on two people, and if it turns out it didn’t work, you’ve got two dead people,” Milner told Sportscar365. 

***The Ian James-driven GTS entry debuts a new paddle-shift gearbox this weekend. The team was unable to test since St. Pete because of the upgrade process, according to James, who added that the cooling issues that plagued the V8-powered car in the season-opener are now behind them. 

***Former NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton is a guest of WC Vision this weekend. Pemberton was introduced to the PWC staff through John Andretti, who is also on-site. 

***Watch the third round of the GTS championship Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on Motor Trend on Demand, with the season-opening SprintX race set for 3:20 p.m. The races will air on CBS Sports Network on Sun. May 7 at 6 p.m. ET (SprintX) and Sun. May 14 at 5 p.m. ET (GTS).

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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