***Saturday’s track action at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship included two additional sessions, totaling 2.5 hours, with a two-hour night session still to run, which begins at 6:30 p.m. ET.
***Rain is expected to impact the session, with showers currently over Daytona International Speedway and forecast through midnight. Michelin IMSA WeatherTech Series manager Hans Emmel told Sportscar365 that they’ve run the new Michelin GTP class wet weather tire at several different tracks through its development process.
***Colin Braun said Meyer Shank Racing has been getting “leaps and bounds better and better” with dialing in its Acura ARX-06. The No. 60 GTP class entry has topped all four timed sessions so far. Braun’s 1:35.038 from Session 4 stands as quickest of the weekend.
***Braun said: “We’re really pretty darn happy with the car right now. Obviously we have good speed, we’re just working through our program and trying to continue to check boxes as we close down on the time we have to get ready for the big race.”
***Both of the Acuras encountered minor issues in Saturday morning’s session, with the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport entry undergoing a fuel pump change and the No. 60 MSR car having a brake issue due to an air leak that resulted in a 20-minute spell in the garage.
***The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo has faced continued setbacks, with a differential issue taking it out of Session 4. The Proton Competition-run GTD Pro entry has so far only completed a single session after it lost considerable time on Friday with a fuel cell issue.
***Frederik Schandorff, who has been the quickest driver in the production-based ranks so far this weekend in the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3, believes teams with the brand new Ferrari 296 GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R are not yet playing their full hand.
***The No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari has been the fastest new GT3 car so far, with the 13th quickest time combined between the GTD Pro and GTD contenders. The seven Type-992 Porsches are all at the bottom of the time sheets, meanwhile.
***Schandorff said: “I think everyone in the GT field expected them to be there because they’re coming with a new car so they don’t want to show too much performance. Of course, everyone in IMSA knows our speed from last year so we don’t need to hide anything because we are even slower than what we did last year in practice. I believe the other guys — Ferrari and Porsche — are playing a good game and hopefully they will improve.”
***GT3 star Raffaele Marciello told Sportscar365 he will need to “learn and adapt” on his LMP2 debut with High Class Racing. Explaining how the drive arose, Marciello said: “I didn’t have any chance with AMG to do this race because they didn’t have many cars racing. I had a chance to do this race and I took it.”
***Marciello added that he tested an Oreca 07 Gibson at Valellunga “a few years ago” but that was his only prior experience in the ubiquitous LMP2 machine.
***Paul-Loup Chatin is poised to complete the full season in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson according to Ben Keating, who reaffirmed his Michelin Endurance Cup-only commitment in the car. Keating said fellow Bronze-rated driver Patrick Kelly is expected to be in the entry for the three sprint rounds.
***Trueman Award winner John Farano is figuring out how his entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans will pan out. Farano has been discussing with an unnamed European team about using their car and parts, or shipping Tower Motorsport’s second Oreca chassis over to Europe for the event. Farano told Sportscar365: “If I select a team, they’re going to supply everything, that way, we don’t have to worry about the logistics and we’ll just keep our spare here for testing. To be honest, we’re still trying to finalize that.”
***Tower won’t enter an FIA World Endurance Championship round in preparation for Le Mans, instead opting to test at a European circuit. Tower crew members will be involved in the entry: “They were part of this, about getting the award and the invite,” Farano added. “They’re excited to go, so I want to make sure they’re going to be part of that as well.”
***Triarsi Competizione will run a single Ferrari 296 GT3 in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS this year according to team owner and driver Onofrio Triarsi. He and Charlie Scardina won the 2022 Am title but will now focus on the Endurance Cup season. Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill are signed up for GTWC America. It’s understood that the slimmed down SRO program is partly due to availability reasons, with Triarsi only having two new Ferraris delivered so far.
***Triarsi shook down its GTD class Ferrari at Homestead-Miami Speedway before bringing it to the Roar. “The car got delivered just before the event, so we didn’t have much time with it,” Triarsi told Sportscar365. “But the crew is doing a phenomenal job, going through all the updates and sorting out any little issues. Things are looking good.”
***Newly minted Lamborghini factory driver Jordan Pepper revealed that he signed his factory contract with the Italian manufacturer shortly after last year’s 24 Hours of Spa, admitting that it was “quite hard” to keep a secret until the official announcement dropped last week.
***Pepper told Sportscar365: “You get so many people wondering what I was going to do. I kind of became the guy just to do private deals, jumping around, and a lot of people expected that I was going to continue that into 2023. I knew that I was at least signed and sealed with Lamborghini.”
***While his primary focus will be on a full season program in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and a second yet-to-be-announced program, Pepper said he’s hopeful of contesting one or two more WeatherTech Championship races this year with Iron Lynx, which is committed to the Endurance Cup with its GTD Pro class entry.
***Members of Action Express Racing were presented rings for their 2021 IMSA DPi team championship season by Sonny and Christine Whelen – owners of Whelen Engineering, the primary sponsor on the No. 31 Cadillac V-LMDh. “It’s a little emotional because we won the championship in 2021 and it shows that despite all the [medical] issues they’ve had they still consider us part of their family,” said Pipo Derani.
***Jim Jonsin, a Grammy Award-winning record producer, songwriter, DJ and music industry businessman, plans to release a song at each round of the Michelin Pilot Challenge season, totaling a ten-track collaboration featuring various artists. For next week’s season opener, Rebel Rock and Empire will release the first single, “No Limits” featuring Kid Rock, Jimmie Allen, Austin Mahone and Striking Matches. The song will be available across all streaming platforms beginning on Friday.
***Porsche legend Alwin Springer’s highly anticipated book on his career of racing with Porsche in North America is due out in April. Authored by Springer and Wilfried Mueller, the 460-page hardcover edition will be limited to 962 copies, numbered by hand.
***To celebrate the 20th anniversary of TRG’s 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall victory, Kevin Buckler will be hosting a “five-star VIP infield experience” at the Boardwalk Club on Lake Lloyd next weekend. The experience will include an ‘all driver reunion’ and a display including the Porsche 996 GT3-RS along with other TRG cars and guest-owned race cars.
***The reunion will be a fully catered experience featuring gourmet chefs and select varieties from Buckler’s Adobe Road Winery. “We couldn’t be more excited to share our legacy with our motorsports family and the race aficionados that enthusiastically make this sport so thrilling,” said Buckler.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report