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GT World Challenge America

Sonoma Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from SRO America weekend at Sonoma Raceway…

Photo: John Dagys

***SRO America teams wrapped up a two-day test at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday, open to Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Pirelli GT4 America, GT America powered by AWS, TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School and the new Toyota GR Cup. GTWC America and GT3/GT2 GT America competitors had nearly five hours of available track time over a total of four sessions, although most of Wednesday’s running was impacted by rain.

***The sessions followed a pre-season test held at NOLA Motorsports Park in late February, which doubled as Balance of Performance test for the TC America competitors. Additionally, a number of teams also tested at Sonoma last week.

***The GTWC America grid for this weekend’s season opening races features 18 cars, while GT4 America has 43 entries listed to take part in Rounds 1 and 2.

***Wright Motorsports returns to a two-car GTWC America operation for the first time since the 2019 season, with the Ohio-based squad adding a Type-991.2 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer, who move up to top series competition following standout runs in GT4 America and GT America last year in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport.

***Charlie Luck and Jan Heylen, who finished runner-up in the Pro-Am championship last year, continue in the No. 45 Porsche, which is an all-new car. Only the No. 120 Wright Porsche and No. 16 ACI Motorsports entry, an ex-KCMG chassis, are previous-generation Type-991.2 Porsches.

***TR3 Racing, which has switched from a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo to Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, is utilizing one of the ex-P1 Motorsports chassis this weekend according to driver Daniel Morad, who told Sportscar365 that an all-new car should be coming to the team by June or July.

***Triarsi Competizione’s Ferrari 296 GT3 completed a one-day test at Sebring International Raceway last week, with Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill having shared the track with the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R and Ford Mustang GT3 machines.

***While featuring a different driver lineup and separate chassis, Triarsi is utilizing the same crew between its IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup and GTWC America programs, which sees the Florida-based team scale back to a single car for SRO America competition this year.

***Dalziel told Sportscar365 that the Ferrari is running a 25 mm taller ride height in SRO Balance of Performance compared to IMSA’s BoP from the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

***Both the Ferrari and Type-992 Porsche are making their debuts in global SRO competition this weekend.

***While the GTWC America field features a stable car count, thanks to several newcomers, two-time and reigning Pro class champions K-PAX Racing are among the notable absences, with the team confirming on Thursday its sole focus on GTWC Europe Endurance Cup with a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.

***Turner Motorsport, another absentee this year after most recently campaigning a BMW M4 GT3 for Robby Foley and Michael Dinan in the Pro class, was forced to back out of its planned GTWC America effort featuring Hutton McKenna due to a family decision according to team owner Will Turner.

***A number of drivers have been derogated from Silver to Bronze* including GTWC America competitors Samatha Tan, Anthony Bartone and Adam Adelson, as well as GT4 America drivers Austin Krainz, Colin Harrison, Gray Newell, Hannah Grisham, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt and Isabella Robusto.

***In addition to its full season Mercedes-AMG GT4 under the JMF Motorsports banner, Conquest Racing will continue to field a second Mercedes-AMG GT4 for Brazilian drivers Custodio Toledo and Paulo Carcasci, who both took part in the final four rounds of the 2022 season.

***Toledo and Carcasci are set again for a four-event program this year, with races at NOLA, Road America and Sebring International Raceway planned.

***This weekend will mark the final home race at Sonoma for Flying Lizard Motorsports, which will be moving its workshop to Apex Motor Club near Phoenix in October. The team, currently based at the Northern California circuit out of four separate buildings, will be moving into a single brand-new 15,000 square-foot facility according to program manager Darren Law.

***Michael Cooper is serving as a driver coach for Jason Bell, who is concentrating on GT America this weekend in the No. 2 Flying Lizard Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Cooper told Sportscar365 that he and Bell could team up for selected GT4 America races later this year, utilizing Bell’s second chassis.

***Law told Sportscar365: “If there’s a chance or availability, maybe at some point, it could be done but it depends on the event and where we sit in the [GT America] championship.”

***Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt will make their GT4 America debut this weekend in The Heart of Racing’s No. 26 Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt emerged from the team’s all-female shootout that took place last November at Apex, and was initially intended to select one driver, but opted to bring two drivers on board for the season.

***Grisham said: “I’m so excited for my first race at Sonoma with The Heart of Racing. It’s a real full-circle moment since I have raced karts at the kart track at Sonoma as a kid and now I’m racing there in cars. I’m ready to kick the season off with a talented, great teammate and a new team for my first SRO start.”

***The Heart of Racing is coming off its first class win in 24H Series competition, with Ian James and Gray Newell teaming with Roman De Angelis for GT3 Am honors and a third place overall finish in last weekend’s Hankook 12H Mugello at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

***The team plans to also contest the 12H Spa-Francorchamps on May 6-7, in what is understood to be its final scheduled 24H Series event of the year in order to concentrate on their SRO America and IMSA commitments.

***The upcoming docuseries focused on the world of pro-am sports car racing directed and produced by Toni Calderon and Brad Peyton is following its open casting call at ‘Super Sebring’ with a similar series of interviews this weekend in the SRO America paddock.

***The project is searching for compelling stories, both on and off the track and isn’t limited to just drivers to tell the story of pro-am motorsports in the U.S. Professional drivers, pro-am participants, crew members, spouses, parents, business advisors and partners are all invited to participate. The series is open to participants and insiders involved in the sports car racing world.

***Interested candidates can schedule a 30-minute block of time to be interviewed, on video though by Clicking Here. Interviews will take place on site at Sonoma Raceway. Nearly 50 interviews were conducted during the joint Sebring week.

***Official track action kicks off on Friday with a 30-minute Paid Bronze Test for GTWC America, GT America and GT4 America competitors at 8:20 a.m. PT, followed by a pair of 60-minute sessions for all GTWC America competitors and two 45-minute practices for GT4 America teams.

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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