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…

 

2017 Porsche 911 RSR development

Could we see a mid-engined 911 racing in 2017?  According to this story in Sportscar365, it a possibility.  Porsche apparently is taking 2016 off from the full factory GTE support in the FIA WEC series to get working on the 2017 911RSR model.  Development has already been underway with on-track testing targeted for the middle of 2016.  20150926-26211645248

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is the acknowledgement that Porsche has looked seriously at a mid-engined concept and has spoken with the FIA about the idea of moving the engine more forward than the road version of the car.  There surely will be a vigorous discussion and debate about the rules and the Balance of Performance.  Recent experiences with the BMW Z4 and Ford GT will either help Porsche’s case or give ammunition to argue against waivers.

Presumably, Porsche is wedded to the rear-engine platform of the 911 for marketing purposes which makes moving the engine forward for racing purposes a bit tricky. The Cayman mid-engined platform appears to be reserved for customers and club racers rather than a full factory platform.

Rumors have circulated for years about a Ferrari figher non-hybrid 918 type platform, known as the 960 or 961.  Early 2013 was really the last time anyone made noise about such a prospect.     Could the end result be a resurrection of the GT1 platform?  Stranger things have happened.  If the crowds surrounding the GT1 and GT1-98 at the Rennsport Reunion are any indicator, there still is an incredible aura around those platforms.

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.

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

WEC Works Porsche 911 GTE program done?

Motorsport-Total.com out of Germany reports that the Porsche works WEC 911 GTE program run by Olaf Manthey will not continue into 2016 and Manthey will retire from active motorsports activities.  The decision is based, in part at least, on the Volkswagen diesel emissions matter.  Sportscar365 has published a similar story with some additional speculation.  The GTE program has been “under review” prior to the VW matter, and there is some speculation that the pull-back is really more about focusing on a mid-engined solution for 2017.  Porsche has not yet confirmed anything, so stay tuned…

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The Manthey Racing garage and Olaf Manthey at LeMans, June 2014.

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.

IMSA Silly Season Updates from Sportscar365

Good estimates of IMSA field composition for 2016 from Sportscar365.  Some movement and interesting things, but was hoping to see more possibilities in the GTD ranks from GT3 cars from Bentley, Aston Martin and Mercedes.  Lamborghini seems to be the surprise of the off-season so far.  Fewer Audis than expected (so far at least).  Thanks to the Sportscar365 team.  Read more here:
Prototype
Prototype Challenge
GTLM
GTD
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Cell phone photo
June 26, 2015
Watkins Glen International, IMSA 6 Hour race weekend
BMW M6 GTLM prototype