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COTA Thursday Notebook

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

Photo: John Dagys

***Alegra Motorsports led the way in both Pirelli World Challenge GT SprintX promoter test day sessions Thursday at Circuit of The Americas, with the No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Michael Christensen and Spencer Pumpelly tuning an unofficial best lap of 2:07.092, set in the morning session. The car was also quickest in the afternoon, although with a time that was three-tenths slower.

***The No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 ended up second quickest on the day, followed by the No. 41 GMG Racing Porsche, which is a late addition to the grid this weekend with Alec Udell and Mathieu Jaminet.

***A spin for the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of JC Perez, who ended up in the gravel trap, brought the second session to an early end. 

***The No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 of James Sofronas and Alex Welch topped the time charts in the afternoon GTS SprintX session, with the car laying down a 2:19.043 to edge out the No. 52 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 of Nate Stacy by 0.362 seconds.

***There was trouble for the No. 55 PF Racing Mustang GT4 of Jade Buford, which sustained front-end damage after contact with the No. 78 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 early in the the 40-minute session. Scott Maxwell has joined the team this weekend, creating arguably one of the strongest lineups in the class.

***Electrical gremlins struck the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3, which completed only four laps in the morning. It had marked the car’s first time on track since being built up at the team’s shop in California following Alvaro Parente’s heavy accident at St. Pete, which required the team to prep a spare chassis.

***A competition bulletin confirming weight penalties for selected GTS teams will be released tomorrow, according to PWC VP of Competition Marcus Haselgrove, who told Sportscar365 that it is taking data from today’s test sessions to determine potential ballast for certain lineups. 

***PWC rules state that a weight penalty of 2.5 percent of the car’s minimum weight will be applied for GTS SprintX lineups featuring a former professional driver. Silver-rated drivers who drive solo are also subject to weight penalties, although it is not expected to apply to Bronze-rated solos. 

***Despite the entry list, which listed two entries in the “GTS Pro” class, the series feature only Pro-Am and Am classes, according to Haselgrove.

***GT Cup entrants, as well as Bronze-rated GT drivers, will be allowed to also drive solo for the first time in SprintX. Two of the five GT Cup entries are slated to feature two-driver lineups, with David Askew listed as the only solo GT driver, in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

***Larry De George was slated to drive the second solo GT entry, also entered by DXDT, although it has been withdrawn. It drops the GT/GT Cup total entry to 19 cars for the pair of 60-minute races.

***Blancpain GT Series rising star Fabian Schiller has been a late confirmation to CRP Racing’s lineup this weekend, alongside full-season driver Daniel Morad. The 20-year-old German has prior Mercedes GT3 experience with HTP Motorsport, having won multiple races in the Silver Cup last year.

***While sporting a fresh white livery and all-new driver lineup in Jeff Segal and Wei Lu, the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari is the same chassis that had been campaigned by Daniel Mancinelli. It is carrying support this weekend from Ferrari of Vancouver, marking the dealer’s foray into motorsports.

***It’s still unclear if Mancinelli will return to PWC Sprint action later this year, amid the team’s withdrawal from the season-opener at St. Pete in protest over the car’s Balance of Performance.

***TRG has made a switch from Aston Martin to Porsche machinery, with its No. 66 entry of Derek DeBoer and Sean Gibbons now a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. The car unofficially posted the third quickest time of Thursday afternoon’s test session.

***Numerous Balance of Performance adjustments have been made since the season-opener in St. Pete, a Category D track, with Circuit of The Americas falling under Category C in SRO’s track-specific BoP categorization.

***Minimum weight increases have been made across the board in GT, with the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R getting hit the hardest with a 25kg increase. The Mercedes-AMG GT3, Bentley Continental GT3 and Audi R8 LMS GT3 all have 10kg added, with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and 2017-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R getting 5kgs.

***SRO has also since created a specific BoP for the 2018-spec Porsche, which now gets an additional 5kg of weight. Both 2017 and Evo versions of the car were listed under the same BoP at St. Pete.

***There is now a 15kg weight difference between the 2017 and evo-spec Ferrari 488 GT3s, compared to 20kgs at St. Pete, with both versions of the Ferrari also facing adjusted turbo boost pressures. Boost changes have also been applied to the Bentley.

***Nearly every GTS car has undergone weight changes: Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R (+20kg), Panoz Avezzano GT (+15kg), Maserati GT4 and SIN R1 GT4 (+10kg), Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (+8kg), Ford Mustang GT4, Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and Ginetta G55 GT4 (+5kg), Mercedes-AMG (-15kg), Audi R8 LMS GT4 (-10kg), BMW M4 GT4 (-5kg).

***Both the Mercedes-AMG and Panoz Avezzano GT are no longer carrying the GT4 badging, as the cars are under draft homologations from the SRO and are awaiting final certification from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium.

***The recent string of BoP changes given to the Porsche GT4, which serves as the platform’s baseline, has been made to help equalize the class, according to Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Daniel Armbruster. “Our feedback was that it wasn’t possible for some cars to get closer, so that means the baseline has to be adjusted so all the others fit into the window. Then I think it’s understandable,” he told Sportscar365.

***Track limits, which played a significant part in last year’s races at COTA, is again enforced this weekend, with cars stepping out of bounds subject to a penalty. However, there will be no limits in Turn 8, according to multiple drivers who attended this afternoon’s drivers’ meeting.

***Ryan Eversley and Daren Jorgensen are two drivers that are set to pull double duty this weekend, with Eversley in both the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi GT4 and No. 43 RealTime Honda TCR and Jorgensen jumping between RHC Lawrence-Strom’s BMW GT4 and M235i Cup machinery.

***ST Racing driver Aurora Straus will be featured on ABC’s Good Morning America tomorrow. Straus, who is deferring enrollment to Harvard for a year to pursue her racing career, is set to drive alongside Al Carter in the No. 36 BMW M4 GT4 in the GTS SX Am category this weekend and will be interviewed at 8:30 a.. 

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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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