***The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge schedule is expected to be released next week. While a provisional calendar was released in July, it’s understood two events are still being finalized. A return to Utah Motorsports Campus and Sonoma Raceway have been the two leading candidates to complete the schedule.
***The final makeup of races for Sprint and SprintX has also not yet been confirmed. Paddock sources have indicated a possible change from the initial five Sprint and five SprintX events, with a heavier concentration on Sprint races.
***A total of 127 cars are entered this weekend between the GT/GTA/GT Cup, SprintX, GTS, TC/TCA/TCB classes, marking an all-time series record. Seventeen of the 25 SprintX cars are also entered in either the Sprint GT/GTA/GT Cup or GTS races as well.
***While ending the day quickest in Sprint practice, Michael Cooper crashed his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R after a suspected mechanical failure. “I was coming down the the hill through Turn 9 and something broke on the front right of the car and I went off and brushed the wall,” Cooper said. “The Cadillac Racing team had a fixed an hour later, so we are ready for tomorrow.”
***The No. 00 Motorsports Promotions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was back on track Friday morning after suffering an engine failure in Thursday’s test session. A spare engine made a 350-mile journey by car overnight from Porsche Motorsport North America in Santa Ana, Calif.
***Jorge De La Torre returns to the wheel this weekend for the first time since his serious accident with Andrew Palmer at Lime Rock Park in May. Doctors initially told the Mexican driver he would have a nine-to-twelve month recovery process but he’s managed to get back racing in just over four months at the wheel of his Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
***The pair of DXDT Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo cars making its PWC debuts this weekend are competing in the SprintX GT Cup class, and not GT as initially reported. The GT class remains for FIA GT3-homologated cars only, as well as the Acura TLX GT, which is taking part in its final race this weekend.
***Lamborghini Squadra Corse USA’s Chris Ward told Sportscar365 they’ve received interest from customers to race the Super Trofeo and Huracan GT3 in PWC next year. Only changes in the air restrictor (38mm), minimum weight (+85kg) and ride height (+13mm front/+10mm rear) have been made to the Super Trofeo cars to be compliant for PWC competition.
***An issue for one of the DXDT cars in Friday morning’s practice session saw fellow Lamborghini competitor TRG lend a master cylinder from its Huracan Supert Trofeo, which was on-site but not racing.
***Calvert Dynamics is set for a reduced program next year, with Preston Calvert confirming to Sportscar365 plans for him to race in the St. Pete and Mid-Ohio Sprint rounds only, as well as the SprintX race at Virginia International Raceway. He said a full-season program is not in the cards due to budget constraints.
***Calvert said he expects to receive his replacement Porsche 911 GT3 R chassis, following its fire at Utah Motorsports Campus, in late December and is also looking to also enter it in next year’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. It could potentially be with Michael Lewis as one of the of co-drivers. Lewis’ 2017 plans have yet to be determined.
***The PWC paddock is filled with faces typically seen in the Blancpain GT Series this weekend. Among the people spotted include McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy, Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush, Nissan driver Sean Walkinshaw, as well as a large contingent of SRO staff, including CEO Stephane Ratel, technical director Claude Surmont and other top-level management/logistics/PR staff.
***Many of the SRO staff have made the trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as a recon mission for next year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge race, which will be held as part of the season-ending PWC weekend.
***The new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which was unveiled last week at the Paris Motor Show, will be eligible for PWC GT Cup competition beginning in 2018. The current-generation Cup car will continue to be the exclusive car for the class next year.
***With the car no longer being eligible in IMSA competition, the Dodge Viper GT3-R is expected to have a larger presence in the PWC paddock next year, with up to three full-time entries. “The short-term future with the race cars… is to be in PWC next year with multiple teams,” said SRT Motorsports Engineering Manager Erich Heuschele.
***TRG has a massive effort on and off the track this weekend, with 90 guests, from three major corporations, expected for a special wine event under the team’s tent. “It’s a Sonoma wine-fest. We brought the tasting room to them,” team owner Kevin Buckler told Sportscar365.
***The future of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca could be decided as early as next week, with the Monterey County board set for another meeting to determine the facility’s operator in a meeting on Tuesday. It’s understood three proposals have been put forward, including a joint effort from ISC and current operators, SCRAMP.
***Laguna Seca has two major sports car racing events on its calendar for next year, with IMSA returning on Sept. 22-24 and the Intercontinental GT Challenge/PWC event on Oct. 13-15.