IMSA Daytona Test notes

Once again, Marshall Pruett is a journalistic machine.  He continues to turn out high quality pieces on open wheel and sportscar topics.  The latest is a rewind on the IMSA test at Daytona posted on Racer.com.  Marshall has lots of goodies about people, tires, testing, Balance of Performance and development.

Perhaps the most potentially disappointing tidbit is the note that a deal between IMSA and either Aston Martin or Mercedes is unlikely which means no customer GT cars on the IMSA grid in 2016.

DragonSpeed brought two SLS models to the test and TRG had an Aston Martin in action as well.  (Incidentally, the Sportscar365 team posted several reports on the test.  If you haven’t read the Tuesday notebook or the Wednesday notebook, they are both worth a read.   The site also features photo galleries like this.  Dailysportscar also has posted a photo gallery from the test.)

AMG has said that their order books for the new GT3 are busy and existing customers are first in line, so they weren’t expecting to have cars available – at least early in the season.

It could still be an interesting IMSA season with a new Audi, a gaggle of Lamborghinis, a new BMW M6 platform, a new Porsche 911, a new Ford GT, the new Ferrari 488, the return of the Viper, and other news, but hopefully the Aston Martin and Mercedes can find their way to the grid at some point.  The more the merrier…

 

IMSA Daytona Test News

Cars haven’t turned wheels on the track, but lots of IMSA news coming out of Daytona today.  Some exciting, some disappointing.  Here we go…

First, the disappointing – for now at least.  The new Mercedes AMG GT3 will be at the test, but will not be on the grid for the early part of the 2016 IMSA season.  The good news is that there is a lot of interest.  Mercedes will deliver cars to existing customers who put in orders early, which means no AMG GT3 at the Rolex 24.  The silver lining also may be that Mercedes sounds interested and the issue is just a matter of logistics.  The other good news is that DragonSpeed intends to be at Daytona with two Mercedes SLS GT3 cars, so hopefully they’ll make the Rolex 24.

Second, Turner Motorsports will be running to BMW M6 GT3 entries in the GTD class.  Turner had an October test at Sebring with the car and will take delivery of its twin M6 models in December.

Third, Corvette Racing is adding some deep talent to its enduro driver line ups in the form of Marcel Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller.  Both are more recently known for success with Audi, so it is a little surprising that they haven’t ended up in Audi GTD entries if they were going to spend time in IMSA.  However, Fassler has prior Corvette GT experience and Rockenfeller has run with several times in a Corvette DP.

While not connected to the GT class, Starworks announced that Indycar driver Jack Hawksworth will join the team for the Rolex 24 in their PC class entry. Jack has prior PC experience in 2015 with another team and will be in the car during the test at Daytona to get acquainted with the team.

Want to see some photos and read some other odds and ends from Daytona?  Check out Sportscar365.com for Monday news and notes.  We should expect to see more comprehensive coverage from multiple outlets starting Tuesday.

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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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

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.