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COTA Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday Pirelli World Challenge notebook from Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

***Four GTS cars have received weight penalties for their driver lineups this weekend. It includes the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R of Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim, the No. 74 Robinson Racing Mercedes-AMG of Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis and No. 55 PF Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 of Jade Buford and Scott Maxwell, which are all carrying additional weight equivalent to 2.5 percent of the car’s base weight.

***The rule has been put into place for Bronze-rated drivers who previously had a pro career, which applies to Pilgrim, Lewis and Maxwell.

***The No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 of Harry Gottsacker is also carrying the 2.5 percent weight penalty, due to Gottsacker being a Silver-rated solo driver. Bronze-rated solos are not subject to the additional weight.

***With the 35.5 kg weight penalty and Balance of Performance adjustments, the Camaro GT4 is running a total of 55.5 kg heavier than in St. Pete, when Aschenbach swept the weekend in the Sprint season-opener. Buford and Maxwell’s car, meanwhile, is 38 kgs heavier than any other Mustang GT4 in the field this weekend.

***New-for-2018 SprintX rules will require GT teams to complete four-tire changes during the mandatory pit stop and driver change, which sees a minimum pit-in to pit-out time of 77 seconds for this weekend. Only one air gun and two tire changers will be allowed per car.

***With a 32-second pit lane delta, K-PAX Racing team manager Thomas Blam told Sportscar365 that it leaves roughly 45 seconds to complete the tire and driver change.

***While also adhering to the 77-second minimum pit stop time, tire changes in the GTS races are prohibited, unless in the case of a puncture. 

***GT teams are limited to a maximum four sets of Pirelli P Zeros, plus one used set from the previous event, during each weekend, with GTS teams allowed up to three sets, as well as one old set, in a change for this year.

***GMG Racing missed the first test session of the weekend on Thursday due to its newly-repaired Porsche GT3 car arriving late at the track. The chassis was only recently repaired following a testing crash at Daytona in the off-season. The team turned its first laps in the car since the accident in the second test session Thursday afternoon.

***Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet is excited to be back at COTA. The young Frenchman, who is driving alongside Udell for GMG this weekend, has had tremendous success at the track in the past with previous wins in PWC and Porsche Super Cup. “This is my place!” he told Sportscar365.

***The deal for Jaminet to partner up with Udell only came together last weekend while he was in Sebring driving for Wright Motorsports. Team owner James Sofronas indicated that the intention is to have Jaminet pair with Udell for the four SprintX rounds that mesh with his schedule.

***All three Ferrari 488 GT3s and the four Porsche 911 GT3 Rs here this weekend are running to 2018-spec evo specifications. The updated Porsche has 5kg of additional weight, with 15kg for the Ferrari, compared to 2017 specifications for both cars.

***Black Swan Racing, which makes its first PWC start of the season, is utilizing the ex-Calvert Dynamics Porsche chassis and not the car the Tim Pappas-owned team took to the Pro-Am class win in last month’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. 

***Pappas told Sportscar365 they purchased a second Porsche for its globe-trotting schedule that will include the remainder of SprintX and Intercontinental GT Challenge races, as well as a two-car effort for next month’s round at Long Beach.

***Acura has debunked claims that it was pushed out of PWC, with NSX GT3 Project Leader Lee Niffenegger stating that its factory effort with RealTime Racing, like Michael Shank Racing’s program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, had been a planned one-year commitment only.

“It was never intended to fund that program for [2019],” Niffenegger told Sportscar365. “Everybody’s blaming World Challenge saying they forced RealTime out. That seems to be the opinion. We’re trying to transition everything to customer programs. RealTime wasn’t able to find a customer and that’s why they’re not there. It’s pretty simple.”

***Niffenegger, however, hasn’t ruled out seeing a customer NSX GT3 in PWC races later this year, with pre-season interest having come from multiple GTA competitors.

***Honda Performance Development still has a presence in the PWC paddock, in a support role to the new Honda Civic Type-R, which is making its U.S. debut this weekend with RealTime and drivers Ryan Eversley and Nick Esayian.

***A total of 20 Acura/Honda GT3 cars have already been built or are currently in production, meeting the FIA’s new production requirement for GT3 manufacturers. That compares to ten Lexus RC F GT3s that have been so far built to date, although it’s understood an additional four cars are set to enter production shortly.

***A TMG spokesperson told Sportscar365 that Lexus intendeds to fulfill its 20-car production minimum by the end of next year.

***In addition to the Honda TCR, both the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR and Hyundai I30 N TCR are also making its U.S. debuts this weekend. Bryan Herta Autosport is spearheading the factory Hyundai operation with drivers Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis.

***Former IndyCar, NASCAR, and sports car driver John Andretti is on the grounds this weekend supporting his son Jarett who is racing a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Copeland Motorsports this weekend.

***Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush is on-site this weekend to oversee the first SprintX race for its new partnership with K-PAX Racing, which is fielding factory drivers Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet.

***Soucek and Soulet, who finished runner-up in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup last year alongside Vincent Abril, are both making their PWC debuts this weekend, with it also being Soucek’s first race in the U.S.

***Soulet’s only previous start in North America, meanwhile, came in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, at the wheel of a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe fielded by Racers Edge Motorsports.

***TruSpeed Autosport’s Parker Chase has teamed up with Music Movement, a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation that develops and funds music-centric programs that’s aimed to improve and enrich the lives of children, young adults and families that suffer with autism and other learning differences. 

***Filming for the second season of  the Amazon web series”Fastlife” has begun. The series, starring TRG’s Derek DeBoer, is shot and produced by his wife, Brooke, and provides a behind-the-scenes look the family’s motorsports endeavors. The series also features many personalities from the PWC paddock. 

***The Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America debuts this weekend, under a new technical and sporting alliance with WC Vision. Five of the six rounds are set to run on PWC weekends, with the season finale occurring Oct. 25-27 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in support of the California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge event.

***Tomorrow’s SprintX season-openers will both be live-streamed on World-Challenge.com, with the GTS broadcast beginning at 2 p.m. ET and GT Race 1 pre-race activities set to get underway at 4:25 p.m. ET. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the GT event on April 1 at 4 p.m. ET, with GTS airing on April 5 at 8 p.m. ET.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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