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GT World Challenge America

Watkins Glen Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday Pirelli World Challenge notebook at Watkins Glen International…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

***The No. 55 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Yuki Harata has been withdrawn due to a last-minute conflict for the Japanese driver. The Las Vegas-based team had been already set up in the paddock, although Harata failed to arrive in time.

***Harata’s withdrawal has handed the Pirelli World Challenge GTA title to Martin Fuentes, who entered the weekend with a 48-point lead over Harata, with Parker Chase third in the championship race. Chase has also been forced to withdraw, due to a death in the family.

***It brings the final-ever single-driver GT Sprint race entry down to 11 cars.

***Fuentes was forced to sit out the opening practice session after a fuel leak was detected in his No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3, although returned to the track in the afternoon to set the quickest time in class.

***Both the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 of Fred Roberts and Steve Burns-driven No. 43 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 are also not taking part this weekend after initially being on the GTS entry list.

***PF Racing built up a brand-new Ford Mustang GT4 car in less than a week following Vinnie Allegretta’s accident earlier this month at Utah Motorsports Campus. Team owner JR Pesek said the decision to rebuild the No. 10 car around a new chassis was only made on the way back to the team’s shop in Kansas City.

***The team received the replacement chassis from Multimatic on Aug. 19 and put in more than 168 man hours to get the car on track for this weekend, according to Pesek, who praised the job of all involved. “We called Multimatic and we sent a guy to Canada to get the chassis,” he told Sportscar365. “They met [us] halfway, picked it up, got back, and started on it. And our crew had the car done in [less] than a week.”

***Patrick Gallagher, who is subbing for Allegretta this weekend, ended the day second overall on the GTS time sheets, in the car’s first laps since the rebuild.

***Blackdog Speed Shop, which also had a rebuild following Andy Pilgrim’s accident in Utah, put in 60 man hours of work at its shop in Lincolnshire, Ill., followed by 11 days at a body shop to prepare its Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R for this weekend, according to team manager Ray Sorenson.

***Jade Buford’s No. 55 PF Mustang GT4 is sporting a pink livery this weekend. When asked for the reason for the change, Buford told Sportscar365 “because it looks cool.”

***Anthony Imperato, who is making his second GTA start of the season in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, is utilizing the same chassis that took Patrick Long to the 2017 GT championship. It’s understood the car will be put up for sale after this weekend.

***Several date changes to the 2019 GT schedule were communicated to teams during Friday’s stakeholders meeting. The previously announced ‘Grand Finale’ has been moved to Oct. 18-20, from its original slot on the first weekend of the month, while the date for the Road America event on Sept. 20-22 could still be adjusted prior to the release of the final calendar.

***While contracts have yet to be finalized, it’s widely believed the season finale will be held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, likely on the combination oval/infield road course. 

***SRO is set to make significant upgrades in trackside hospitality, with plans to introduce the Pirelli GT Paddock Club at selected events next year. The lounge and business center, which will be utilized for VIP hospitality, will be similar to the Blancpain GT hospitality unit used in Europe.

***The entry deadline for the Intercontinental GT Challenge season-ending California 8 Hours is tonight, although Sportscar365 understands it could be extended through the end of the weekend to accommodate several PWC teams that are close to confirming entries.

***Sportscar365 understands there are at least 25 entries already confirmed for the Oct. 24-26 event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with the number expected to rise in the coming days once additional entries are finalized.

***K-PAX Racing confirmed its entry for the race earlier this week, with a single previous-generation Bentley Continental GT3 for Alvaro Parente, Rodrigo Baptista and Bryan Sellers. A decision on which chassis the team the use for the race has not yet been determined.

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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