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GT World Challenge America

VIR Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from VIR…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***A capacity grid of 35 cars are set for this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season-opener, with two alternate entries having now been confirmed for the pair of 60-minute races, following two late withdrawals.

***The No. 11 Precision Driving Ferrari 458 Challenge Evo of Marko Radisic and Dani Clos has been added to the GT Cup Pro/Am class, while the No. 07 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 are no-shows. 

***While Dream Racing is still present with its GT Cup class Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo entry, the Utah-based DXDT squad, which was set for a full SprintX campaign, has elected to focus on its upcoming four-car Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America program, which kicks off next weekend at Circuit of The Americas.

***Thursday’s promoter test day got off to a late start following cleanup from massive flooding that have impacted the region. Heavy rains left sections of track in up to eight feet of water, with a temporary barrier having been erected in Turn 1, where the runoff still remains slightly under water. Roads to South Boston have also been affected.

***A heavy crash by the No. 30 NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in Turn 10 halted the first SprintX test session, which has forced the Miami-based team to revert to its spare car this weekend (pictured above). Henrique Cisneros has been joined by Tyler McQuarrie in the GT Am-Am class entry, which took part in the day’s final test session. 

***The No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 also had an incident on Thursday, with Alex Riberas at the wheel. The car, which sustained right-side damage, missed the evening’s third and final 45-minute session but is expected to be on track for tomorrow’s official sessions.

***No official times were recorded in any of the sessions today.

***While Cadillac Racing has yet to nominate its driver pairings, Ricky Taylor is expected to team up with Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R and Jordan Taylor in the No. 8 car alongside Michael Cooper. The pairings were seen practicing driver changes during the sessions.

***O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac has underwent an engine change late Thursday after spotting an anomaly on the telemetry final session, according to a team spokesperson. Remarkably, this weekend marks the first time four-time PWC champion has raced at VIR.

***The No. 98 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 has changed in color from orange to red this weekend. Michael Lewis joins Mike Hedlund in the GT Pro-Am class entry for the SprintX races. 

***Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Martin Fuentes and Stefan Johansson has been re-classified to the GT Am-Am class, due to the 60-year-old Swede’s new Bronze driver rating from the FIA.

***Selected GT Am-Am class cars, including the Porsche 911 GT3 R, Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Audi R8 LMS, receive slightly larger air restrictors, per SRO’s Balance of Performance. Pro-Am class cars are except from this allowance, which is also permitted in GTA on Sprint weekends.

***VIR falls into SRO’s Category B BoP, which is the same for Road America and Circuit of The Americas.

***The GTS field, which runs seperate 50-minute races this weekend, has been reduced to an 18-car entry, following the withdrawal of the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302R of Andrew Aquilante over an alleged BoP dispute. Aquilante currently leads the drivers’ championship after sweeping the opening weekend at St. Pete.

***Despite plans to expand into a two-car operation for VIR, only a single Panoz Avezzano GT is entered this weekend, again for Ian James, as the Tom Milner-led operation focuses on further development of the car. 

***Official track action begins with GTS Practice 1 at 9:40 a.m. ET, followed by the first SprintX practice session at 10:40 a.m.  Additional sessions are scheduled for the afternoon. Qualifying for both classes takes place on Saturday morning. 

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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