IMSA GT Silly Season

The news and changes have been flowing, including some surprises.

Christina Nielsen is moving to Scuderia Corsa to drive a Ferrari 488 in the IMSA GTD category.   She is moving from The Racers Group and the Aston Martin.  She finished just behind the Scuderia Corsa car in the 2016 GTD championship.

The 2016 IMSA GTD championship winning drivers for Scuderia Corsa, Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler are moving to O’Gara Motorsports to drive a brand new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the IMSA GTD class.  The team hasn’t yet taken delivery of the car, but they’ve been busy winning the 2015 2015 Lamborghini Super Trofeo championship.  A single Lamborghini Huracan has been shared by multiple customer teams and drivers, steadily putting on mile after mile.

Somehow Dion von Moltke still doesn’t have a ride for 2016.  He tied for third in the GTD standings with the Paul Miller Audi.  The Paul Miller team is joining the move to the Lamborghini Huracan platform for 2016.   For a driver line-up, Brian Sellers, Madison Snow and Bryce Miller will drive the Paul Miller Lamborghini.   Miller joins for the endurance races.  The pairing of Sellers and Snow is a very potent combination.

Meanwhile, the Porsche ranks are starting to become more clear.  Cars for Alex Job and Black Swan are coming.  Park Place Porsche is also reportedly going to run in 2016 with a brand new 911RSR, but driver Patrick Lindsey will not be continuing with the team.  Could there be more?

As if the IMSA GT class isn’t busy enough, the Pirelli World Challenge is busy on its own.  Somehow, Andy Pilgrim Andy Pilgrim has been dropped by Cadillac in PwC.  Could he find his way to an IMSA ride?  Gainsco/Bob Stallings, historically associated with the IMSA series, will be entering a McLaren 650 in the PWC series with Jon Fogarty at the wheel.  Sadly, McLaren is not an authorized manufacturer partner with IMSA, so the car is ineligible to run in 2016 IMSA events.

How about another Viper in the form of Lone Star Racing?  The team ran at COTA and expects to run the 2016 season with Dan Knox and Marc Goosens.  The ViperExchange 2016 details were released in October, so there should be at least two Vipers on the grid in 2016.

In the meantime, Risi expects to take delivery of its brand new Ferrari 488 in December.  Perhaps not a surprise at this point, but still worth a note that timing may be tight to get the car and get it prepared for the Roar prior to the Rolex 24.

Audi will be represented by several customer teams, including Magnus Racing with John Potter and some guy named Andy Lally.  Stevenson Racing is not only making the move to the Audi R8 platform, but took home the shared Audi test vehicle after the Daytona test.  Don’t think there has been a public announcement, but rumor suggests Flying Lizard will be running a new Audi (or two?) as well.

Oh yes.  In the category of open secrets, the full time drivers for the Ganassi Ford GT IMSA season were announced.

Is there more?  Undoubtedly.  Lots of work for teams as they start to take delivery of new cars and get them prepared for the Roar and the Rolex 24. It still would have been more fun at Daytona with Aston Martin and Mercedes.  Stay tuned…

Audi IMSA news and Ford GT development

Yet another day of IMSA GT news.  Stevenson Motorsports confirmed their move to a two car 2016 IMSA GTD entry with customer Audi R8.  That’s a major move for a Continental Tires support series team to move up to the big show and move from GM to Audi.  At the same time, Magnus Racing announced its move from Porsche to a customer Audi R8 program.  Magnus also confirmed that some guy named Andy Lally – noted possum killer– will continue to drive for them.

As Audi Sport’s Brad Kettler says to Marshall Pruett in Racer Magazine: “Wait until teams get a hold of this bullet.”

Marshall Pruett also reports on the continuing development of the Ford GT platform by the Ganassi Racing team.  As vintage Dave Letterman would say, for those of you scoring at home or even for those of you who are alone, Ganassi is scheduled to have two cars at the upcoming IMSA test in Daytona.

Did you see the new Audi R8 that was on display and won at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring?

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Walker still searching for 2016 plans

Marshall Pruett has been a very busy journalist this week.  With rumor that Walker Racing would be running an Audi R8 customer car in 2016, Marshall checked with Derrick Walker – the guy who ought to know.  Walker confirmed that he’s still working on 2016, but doesn’t have an Audi deal in place.  In fact, he confirmed that he doesn’t currently have anything in place.  Time is growing short. Thanks to Marshall for running the rumor to ground.  We still hope to see Walker on a grid somewhere in 2016.  Primary sponsor Falken announced early in 2015 that it would not be returning for 2016, after a long and successful partnership with Walker.
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Canon 5D Mark III, 105mm, ISO125, 1/640 sec, f/10
June 26, 2015
Watkins Glen, warm-up prior to the 6 hour race
Walker Racing Falken GTLM Porsche, winner in class at the end of a very wet day

More IMSA GT3 news from Racer Magazine and Sportscar365

What a week for GT3 and IMSA news. Marshall Pruett reports on Magnus to Audi for the 2016 IMSA campaign, giving up its traditional Porsche.  Pruett also reports that GM stalwart Stevenson Motorsport is giving up hope of a Cadillac GT3 and is set to move to an Audi R8 for the 2016 IMSA series.  Good for Audi, but too bad that GM can’t (won’t?) support a GT3 program for Corvette or Cadillac in IMSA.  Meanwhile, The Racers Group announced that it was going to be supporting a 2016 Pirelli World Challenge program which appeared to put an IMSA program in question, particularly given the manufacturer “support” issue.  However, John Dagys reports that Kevin Buckler at The Racers Group is optimistic that he’ll be fielding an Aston Martin in 2016 IMSA GTD competition.  More to come?  In addition to Magnus and Stevenson, John Dagys reports that Walker Racing may also run a customer Audi R8 IMSA GTD program in 2016.

In a piece that largely focuses on silly season in the IMSA prototype ranks, Marshall Pruett includes the tidbit that Walker Falken Porsche driver and fan-favorite Bryan Sellers has landed a full time drive for 2016, but no specifics further than that.  In other news, TRG/Aston Martin driver Christina Nielsen is rumored to be moving to Scuderia Corsa as seats are open with Sweedler and Bell moving to a Lamborghini.

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Canon 5D Mark III, 24mm, ISO200, 1/400 sec, f/14
May 16, 2015
Nurburgring 24 hours pre-race, rolling out to the starting grid
Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS.  The car was placed by the factory with favored teams in 2015 before being made available more broadly to customers.  A similar model in the hands of Team WRT won the Nurburgring 24 hours in its debut.