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VIR Sunday Notebook

John Dagys’ PWC notebook from Sunday pre-race at VIR…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***The No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro GT4.R is ready to go for this morning’s GTS race, after a spare differential was flown in from the team’s shop in Lincolnshire, Ill. overnight. Tony Gaples, who headed into the weekend as the GTS-A points leader, gave up his diff to teammate Lawson Aschenbach, whose third place finish in Race 1 has put him provisionally into the overall lead of the championship.

***Camaro GT4.R Program Manager Shawn Meagher told Sportscar365 that there’s been significant interest in the Pratt & Miller-built car, with deliveries likely to begin at the end of this year ahead of customer programs in 2018.

***The No. 04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 of George Kurtz, which also missed GTS Race 1, should also be set for today’s 50-minute race after replacing turbo parts overnight. K-PAX Racing loaned one of its GT3-spec McLaren engines to the James Sofronas-owned team to use for spares. Both cars utilize the same base 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine.

***SprintX Race 1 GT Pro-Am class winner Sofronas told Sportscar365 they timed yesterday’s pit stop to 90.5 seconds, to give an extra buffer for the minimum pit lane delta, which caught out no fewer than seven teams in the season-opening round. Sofronas said they utilized timing data from the Porsche 911 GT3 R’s dash, as well as a manual timed backup, which had the owner/driver call out on the radio the moment he hit pit-in.

***Sofronas has spoken highly of Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor, who made a storming final stint to claim an overall podium finish on Saturday. “With all the banging and bumping that went on out there, there wasn’t a scratch on our car,” Sofronas told Sportscar365. “He made some aggressive moves but he never touched anyone. That’s a testament to him. He’s got marching orders from Porsche… but to me he showed why he’s a true pro and Porsche hired him.”

***Vanthoor said one of the reasons he’s taking part in the opening two SprintX rounds at VIR and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is to get experience on both circuits ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rounds later this summer with the factory Porsche GT Le Mans squad.

***Only one post-race penalty has been issued, so far, following Saturday’s incident-filled SprintX Race 1, despite numerous meetings with drivers post-race and into this morning regarding on-track conduct. PWC officials were at the track until past 9 p.m. last night in meetings with teams and drivers.

***The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R has been given a three-position grid penalty for Race 2 for avoidable contact, while the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 has been moved to the back of the grid due to an engine change.

***Pierre Kaffer has shared his view of the incident with eventual race winner Daniel Mancinelli at the Esses: “Unfortunately yesterday’s incident was very disappointing. It was side-by-side contact in which I didn’t do anything but hold my line inside, but unfortunately the other car came over to where I was, making it unavoidable. We had a great car and a great opportunity to do well yesterday so it’s disappointing to have a good opportunity taken away.”

***Always Evolving’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 arrived at VIR with limited running, with the brand-new chassis having only completed a shakedown in the UK prior to the start of on-track action on Thursday. A pin connector derailed Frankie Montecalvo and Ricardo Sanchez’s run in Race 1 on Saturday, with Sanchez set to start 22nd overall for Race 2 this afternoon.

***Click Here for the grid for SprintX Race 2 and Click Here for the grid for GTS Race 2. 

***DIME Racing is set to complete the remainder of the Sprint and SprintX seasons with at least one Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Jonathan Summerton. The team is understood to be working towards a second Lamborghini for the SprintX races, potentially as early as the next round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. 

***The SprintX races at CTMP and Lime Rock Park will have similar grid restrictions due to pit lane capacity. While the field was capped at 35 cars here, PWC Director of Competition Marcus Haselgrove told Sportscar365 that CTMP will likely be limited to 36 or 37 cars, with only 32 pit boxes at Lime Rock.

***Bentley factory driver Vincent Abril, who is making his U.S. race debut, is in the middle of a busy seven-week stretch of consecutive races that began with last weekend’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race at Monza. 

***Abril travels to Brands Hatch next weekend for the second round of the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup, followed by the Endurance Cup race at Silverstone, back to North America for the SprintX rounds at CTMP and Lime Rock, then to Zolder for Sprint Cup.

***It’s also busy times for Abril’s PWC teammates Adderly Fong and Alexandre Imperatori, who are taking part in the China GT Championship, which kicks off at Goldenport Motor Park in Beijing on May 12-13. Imperatori will partner with Chinese film star Han Geng in one of three Bentley Team Absolute-entered Bentley Continental GT3s in the new-look series, following its merger with GT Asia.

***Of note, Bentley Motorsport Director Brian Gush is attending his first PWC race of the season this weekend. 

***Interest is growing for the new Audi R8 LMS GT4 car, which is on display here this weekend. GMG’s Sofronas, who was on-hand during Friday’s technical presentation of the car, said there’s been strong interest from his customers wanting to run the car in PWC GTS races next year.

***Planning for the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has continued, with meetings set for this weekend between the SRO, PWC and teams. IGTC Series Manager Sophie Peyrat and Sporting Director Jacquie Groom are here this weekend to finalize the sporting regulations for the first SRO-run endurance race in America in a decade.

***Watch the fourth round of the GTS championship today at 11:10 a.m. ET on Motor Trend on Demand, with second SprintX race of the weekend set for 1:15 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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