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GT World Challenge America

Sonoma Thursday Notebook

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

Photo: Fabian Lagunas/SRO

***Thursday saw no action for SRO America competitors due to track repairs being made after portions of the recently resurfaced Sonoma Raceway came apart in testing on Wednesday. SRO America issued a revised schedule, which will see largely no track activity on Friday, prior to a compressed schedule for Saturday.

***The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS grid is down to 12 cars following the no-show of MMG’s Porsche 911 GT3 R, which was due to feature ex-open-wheel ace Alex Tagliani. The Canadian team is believed to be preparing for an entry into the series later this season.

***As a change for this year, Fanatec GT America races will no longer have a ten-minute window where all teams must pit. Instead, the series has mandated a maximum 50-minute drive time for each driver, which is expected to add a strategic element into the 90-minute races.

***DXDT Racing has reaffirmed that it will debut its first Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R in the next round at Sebring International Raceway for Bryan Sellers and Scott Smithson, who are co-driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo this weekend. Mercedes-AMG factory driver Philip Ellis makes his full-season debut in the team’s second Mercedes-AMG this weekend alongside Jeff Burton.

***Ellis said: “I‘m very excited to join the team after having been with them in Indianapolis last year for the first time. We have a great group of people in the team and I‘m sure we can have some great success with our potential. I can’t wait to get to work and take this new challenge head on.”

***A Ford Mustang GT3 could make its Fanatec GT America debut later this year. Multiple sources have indicated to Sportscar365 that a car, which is currently scheduled for build, has been allocated to run in the series, although the identity of the team remains unclear.

***Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbook told Sportscar365 in January that a customer Mustang GT3 could “potentially” be seen in the series “maybe” later in the year.

***Flying Lizard Motorsports has gone to a spare Nissan Z NISMO GT4 following an accident for Stefan Rzadzinski in Wednesday’s opening test session. Program manager Darren Law told Sportscar365 that the team is utilizing its workshop, adjacent to the track, to prep the new car in time for track action.

***The chassis, which was on Nissan’s transporter as the only spare Z NISMO GT4 in North America, is chassis No. 7, while the Lizard’s original car was chassis No. 5. Law said he expects the crashed car to be eventually repaired.

***This weekend marks the final ‘home race’ for Flying Lizard at Sonoma Raceway, with the team in the final stages of fully moving to its new base at APEX Motor Club in Arizona.

***Law, who is celebrating his birthday today, told Sportscar365: “We put in our 30-day notice. We’ll be out mid-April. So we still have access to the shop [this weekend]. You can call it our last home race [at Sonoma].”

***While the No. 8 Flying Lizard Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo is a brand-new first-generation chassis that has been upgraded to the new-for-2024 specification by the team, Jason Bell’s GT America car arrived as a turn-key Evo machine last week after a near two-month delay.

***Bell, meanwhile, ruled out contesting any Fanatec GT America races with his new GT3-spec Aston, with his full focus set on GT America competition this year.

***A number of SRO America teams took part in private testing at Sonoma last week, although Blackdog Racing was out testing its new Nissan at Circuit of The Americas two weeks ago prior to this weekend’s action.

***Eight GT4 manufacturers: Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Toyota will compete in the SRO’s new GT4 Manufacturer Ranking, scoring points via their customer racing teams in GT4 championships and series around the globe. The concept is similar to Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS, which launched in 2019 to cater for GT3 manufacturers.

***Points will be awarded in eight series organized or licensed by SRO Motorsports Group around the world, including GT4 America and GT America. The ranking kicked off with the British GT Championship and FFSA French GT4 Championships last weekend.

***GT4 Manufacturers score points based on the position of its leading car in each category in every race, with points for sprint races of up to 60 minutes based on the standard allocation (25–18–15–12–10–8–6–4–2–1). Points scored per brand are then multiplied by the number of cars competing in that category. A win in a category with five cars competing, for instance, is worth less than one where 20 cars are entered.

***Racers Edge Motorsports is pulling double duty this year, fielding a new Acura Integra Type S car in the TCX class for Christopher DeFreitas. A total of five of the the cars, built by Honda Development & Manufacturing of America in Marysville, Ohio, are in TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School, including a pair fielded by LA Honda World Racing.

***Lime Rock’s Historic Festival on Labor Day weekend will expand to feature a new class in ‘Turn of the Century World Challenge’ cars. The group is set to showcase production-based street stock race cars from the 1995-2005 era of World Challenge. The modern-day series last visited the Connecticut bullring circuit in 2018.

***As was the case last year, all SRO America races will be streamed live and free on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel as well as its Twitch stream. MavTV will carry broadcasts on its network on a tape-delay basis.

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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