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GT World Challenge America

Sonoma Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from SRO America season-opening event…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO

***Friday’s pair of practice sessions for Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS competitors saw incidents from no fewer than three GT3 competitors, the biggest being a heavy accident by Jean-Claude Saada in the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. 

***Sportscar365 understands that the Italian squad is working to repair the car in time for qualifying tomorrow.

***Colin Braun brought out a red flag in the afternoon session in his No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, which hit a tire barrier in Turn 3 after losing a wheel. The car did not re-appear for the remainder of the 60-minute session.

***Zelus Motorsports, which announced plans for dual GTWC America and GT America powered by AWS programs with a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, has elected to focus on GT America only this weekend as it awaits on pit equipment for the extended sprint races. 

***Madison Snow, who was due to join Jason Harward this weekend behind the wheel, is still on site and is expected to race at the next round at Circuit of The Americas in May.

***CJ Moses has withdrawn from this weekend’s GT America races. Moses was scheduled to make his GT3 debut in one of DXDT’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos.

***The late entry list changes has resulted in 14-car and 20-car grids for GTWC America and GT America, respectively.

***Despite no GT2 cars having been entered this weekend in GT America, the platform remains a “very high priority” according to SRO America President and CEO Greg Gill.

***Sportscar365 understands that SRO America is looking to add a Cup or Invitational class to GT America that would allow cars from single-make series, such as Lamborghini Super Trofeo Evos, to participate, possibly as early as the next event.

***Lamborghini’s GT2-spec Huracan, which consists of an upgrade kit for the Super Trofeo model, has yet to be homologated after SRO’s planned Balance of Performance test at Paul Ricard was canceled late last year due to a COVID-19 lockdown in France.

***In addition to GT2 machinery, GT America is open to previous and current-gen GT3 models and GT4 cars. The single-driver, Bronze-rated enforced series will feature a pair of 40-minute races on each weekend.

***Compass Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Matt McMurry and Rodrigo Sales is the same chassis that took Trent Hindman and Shelby Blackstock to the overall drivers’ championship last year with Racers Edge Motorsports.

***Compass also has possession of a second Acura, an ex-Meyer Shank Racing chassis, that is expected to be put into use in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup races this year.

***The No. 43 Murillo Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Aurora Straus and Christina Nielsen has been moved from the Silver to Am class.

***The class change has thwarted plans for Katherine Legge, who is serving as the ‘program mentor’, to sub for Nielsen at COTA due to the Dane’s existing Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie commitments.

***All of the GT4-spec Porsches are the latest-generation 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsports this weekend, including Black Swan Racing’s car, which is making its race debut. The Tim Pappas-owned team is utilizing the same chassis for both GT4 America and GT America races but plans to have a second chassis by COTA.

***SRO America officials have threatened the loss of session times for “all team cars” found to be in violation of the series’ COVID-19 protocols, including the requirement of wearing face coverings at all times while on circuit property.

***This weekend’s event marks the largest representation of Aston Martin Vantage GT machines assembled in one series in the U.S., with a total of ten cars entered between the three series. It includes the GTWC debut of the new-gen Vantage GT3.

***Aston Martin Racing President David King said the record entry is a “clear statement of intent” from the British manufacturer. “We are resolutely committed to building on the successes of 2020 and to ensuring that there can be doubt about our drive to make the Vantage GT the clear choice for endurance teams competing in GT series across North America,” he said.

***George Kurtz has revealed plans to contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July, likely again with SPS Automotive Performance. The CrowdStrike co-founder and CEO made his Spa debut with the German squad in last year’s race, which ran in late October.

***Amazon Web Services has increased its commitment this year by becoming the global technology provider for SRO Motorsports Group worldwide, which includes all GT World Challenge series as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and Intelligent Money British GT Championship.

***The popular data acquisition feature “Race Vision powered by AWS” returns this year, with the platform, which displays insights such as top speed, corner speed and other analytics, set to be utilized in all SRO broadcasts and streaming services.

***CrowdStrike, the Official Cybersecurity partner of SRO, and AWS will continue collaborating on activation programs such as the Virtual CXO summits, which bring together CrowdStrike guests and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to discuss emerging trends in Internet and cloud cybersecurity.

***A dedicated CrowdStrike livestream of the races will be available this weekend, featuring commentary from CrowdStrike Racing and AWS personalities. Click Here for more information.

***Calvin Fish will not be in the broadcast booth this weekend after being admitted to the hospital on Wednesday. Fish tweeted that he had some “argy bargy” with a kidney stone and will miss this weekend’s event as a result.

***The USAC-sanctioned Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama kicks off next weekend at Sebring International Raceway with a 31-car grid. The new-for-2021 single-make series, which essentially replaces IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, will feature on a majority of SRO America weekends this year.

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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