IMSA November Test Entry

IMSA will be hosting an open test at Daytona on November 17-18.  Want to see the schedule and regulations for the test?  They’re posted on the IMSA website in the competitor’s section here.  Want to see the preliminary cars entered and the inspection schedule?  That’s posted on the IMSA website here.  Check back for updates before the test gets underway.

The prototype class has some of the usual suspects, but some have new driver line-ups.  Action Express has two cars and VisitFlorida (Flis) has one car.  The Mazda program will have one car entered along with the Delta Wing.  Michael Shank will bring a Ligier with a new chassis. The PC class shows 5 entries – two from BAR1, and one each from Starworks, Core and JDC.

20150514-140854351Perhaps the most interest revolves around the GT cars.  Factory entries with brand new GT3 models will be represented from Audi and Mercedes.  Customer teams have not yet taken delivery of their models.  Similarly, a Lamborghini GT3 will be present, although teams haven’t received their cars either.  Ganassi will have two new Ford GT examples, Riley will have a Viper, TRG will have an Aston Martin, and Turner will have a new M6 GT3.  Dragonspeed is bringing two Mercedes SLS cars in hopes of being able to run them at the Rolex 24, even though manufacturer “support” fees haven’t been resolved with IMSA yet.  There is a single Porsche 997GT3 from Autometrics Motorsports.  In GLTM, Corvette will have two cars and BMW will have a brand new M6.

20150514-140855012Ferrari’s new 488 cars are being tested in Italy and haven’t been delivered to customers yet.  Porsche has only started making deliveries of the new 991GT3R. There will be more Audis and Lamborghinis on the Rolex 24 grid, so teams are just getting to know the factory cars at this point rather than running their own mounts. It seems unlikely that we’ll see a Mercedes AMG GT3 at Daytona, but the fact that Mercedes is bringing a factory car to Daytona is a good sign – perhaps only for the longer term, but a good sign.

A summary story has been posted on Sportscar365 as well.  Stay tuned for more…

Another day, more IMSA GT3 and GTLM news

The pieces of the 2016 IMSA GT3 puzzle continue to fall into place.  Fan favorite Bryan Sellers was announced today as driver along with young hot-shoe Madison Snow at Paul Miller Racing in a Lamborghini Huracan.  Bryce Miller will join the team for the endurance races.  The team leaves its 2015 IMSA customer Audi program and former drivers, so it is changing both car platform and pilots.   Paul Miller Racing hasn’t taken delivery of its new Lamborghini yet, but got track time at Road Atlanta in the factory test car (albiet in mixed conditions) and will get more time at the IMSA test at Daytona coming up on Nov 17-18.

In other Lamborghini news, O’Gara Motorsport formally confirmed its new drivers of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler who will run in the IMSA GTD class in 2016.   Bell and Sweedler won the GTD championship in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari and visibly gained momentum and strength through the season.

20150626-261656281Meanwhile, the Risi Ferrari team is getting a closer look at the new 488 turbo which is getting testing miles in Italy.  Marshall Pruett reports that the team will skip the IMSA test in order to send staff to Italy.  The team is looking forward to getting a new 488 and would like to run the car in the 2016 IMSA season, but it doesn’t know yet whether they will take delivery in time for the Rolex 24. 20150626-261658432
June 26, 2015
Watkins Glen IMSA 6 hours, pre-race warm-up

Still hope for Mercedes in IMSA?

Dragonspeed is still holding out hope of running a Mercedes SLS in the IMSA Rolex 24 race.  They are going to run two cars at the IMSA November test at Daytona while IMSA and Mercedes negotiate to find a way to address IMSA’s manufacturer admission/support fees.

Mercedes plans to attend the November test with a factory GT3, but a debut in January at the Rolex 24 still seems unlikely.  They have interest but no public news of US teams who have actually ordered cars.

With so much interest and so much to gain by having MBZ in IMSA grids, we hope that the parties find a way to get it done.

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May 15, 2015
Nurburgring 24 Hours, MBZ paddock area
Mercedes AMG GT3

Ferrari GTE/GT3 news

The Ferrari new 488 GT3 and GTE were just unveiled at Mugello.  Ferrari is targeting a debut at the Rolex 24, but that is uncertain.  An appearance at the November IMSA test seems unlikely at best.  Here is a great video showing a 488 GTE livery timelapse.  Speculation suggests that Scuderia Corsa will run 1-2 cars in GTD, but likely start the season in the 458 rather than 488 model.  Risi is expected to run a 488 in the GTLM class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  There won’t be many Ferraris in the IMSA field, but the 458 has been a strong horse – including claiming the 2015 IMSA GTD championship with Scuderia Corsa in the hands of Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell.

Moving pictures from Bozzy’s Youtube channel:

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.

Big Day for GT3 News in the US

What a day for news in the US GT3 ranks.  Flying Lizard ownership changes?  The Lizards still evaluating options in IMSA, PwC and PCA racing but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them running a new Audi R8 (or two).  Lexus F Performance GT3 program shown at SEMA – with Paul Gentilozzi and Scott Pruett, likely missing Daytona and Sebring but running later in the 2016 season (maybe CoTA or even Petit LeMans?).  How about Pruett leaving Ganassi racing for the opportunity but running in the Rolex 24 with another prototype team?  Alex Job unveils livery for the 2016 IMSA season with WeatherTech colors and the brand new Porsche 911GT3-R.   Ben Keating is contemplating another Viper GTD entry and potentially a LeMans visit. Oh yes, IMSA appears to be thinking about adjusting GT3 performance with weight, restrictor and rear wing (!!) changes to distinguish the GTD class from the GTLM class.  Stay tuned…
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Canon 5D Mark III, 24mm, ISO320, 1/100 sec, f/9
May 16, 2015
Nurburgring 24 Hours, support paddock
2016 spec Porsche 911GT3-R

IMSA sticking to admission fees for GT3 manufacturers in 2016 (so far)

More good reporting on IMSA, GT3 cars and their rules requiring manufacturer support for customers to run from Marshall Pruett at Racer.com here.  I’m sure there are some good business reasons behind the philosophy, but it seems like a self-inflicted wound to construct barriers that would deter teams and private car owners from entering IMSA events.  Something like short-term thinking to boost exposure at the expense of the show itself.  Marques like Aston Martin, Bentley, Mercedes, Corvette, and others should find a welcome home – not an admission fee. Better idea?  Create basic infrastructure and welcome everybody and anybody to come and join the fun.  A better product which attracts more participants will be its own best advertising.  Otherwise, it just looks like IMSA is trying to create a private country club.
In case you missed it from earlier in the month, here is outstanding story on Dailysportscar.com with an overview of the GT3 landscape more broadly for 2016.
For example, Riley Technologies had a GT3 Viper in bare carbon and plastic wrap in the Watkins Glen paddock at the 6 hour IMSA race.  For $476,050, you could have taken it home with you.  Seems like it would have a better chance of getting teams, sponsors and fans interested in IMSA if it could race than to require another $1m in spending from a manufacturer in fees and “support spending” to get it on the track.
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Mercedes GT3 racing news – will be at the IMSA November test

Excellent reporting from Marshall Pruett at Racer.com about the Mercedes GT3 program in the United States here.  They expect to have a factory car at the IMSA November test at Daytona, but are prioritizing customers who put in orders first.  They hope to show the car to prospective customers at the test.  At this point, prospects for an appearance at the Rolex 24 in January is uncertain.  Mercedes still needs to navigate IMSA’s “partner” program, but it sounds like production delays and a full order book are more likely to be the culprit if there is no Mercedes on the grid at Daytona.  Mercedes does expect to be on the grid at the Dubai 24 hours.  For those attending the Nurburgring 24 in May, you’re in for a treat with lots of new cars.
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Canon 5D Mark III,  24mm, ISO200, 1/100 sec, f/4
May 16, 2015
Nurburgring 24 hours weekend, Mercedes AMG Display tent
GT3 prototype