Photo: Michelin North America

Michelin Daytona On-Track Opportunity Notebook

By IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tuesday’s Michelin on-track opportunity at Daytona International Speedway included a total of 38 race cars from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge series. On-track activity began at 8 a.m. ET and continues through 8 p.m. The sessions are closed to the public.

  • A total of 18 WeatherTech Championship cars participated, with two Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars, one LMP2, two GT Le Mans (GTLM) and 13 GT Daytona (GTD) machines.
  • Jordan Taylor was the lone driver in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. He remarked that these were his first laps in the car since a Michelin on-track opportunity at Road Atlanta in October, the day after he co-drove to victory in the Motul Petit Le Mans with Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“It was like putting a glove back on or a shoe back on this morning when I got back in the car,” Taylor said. “I was a little nervous that it would take a couple laps, but it felt like I was in the car yesterday, so it was good.”

  • Moorespeed, which has been a leading contender in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama for the past several years, was present and accounted for at the test. The team, which announced plans earlier today to race full-time in the WeatherTech Championship GTD class in 2019, was putting its new Audi R8 LMS GT3 through its paces.

Veteran drivers Alex Riberas and Andrew Davis were on hand, as was GT3 Cup Challenge USA grad Will Hardeman, who will make his GTD debut next season. They will be joined by Audi factory driver Markus Winkelhock in next month’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

  • Moorespeed wasn’t the only team with newly announced plans at Daytona on Tuesday. Scuderia Corsa confirmed last night that Cooper MacNeil would be joined by longtime Ferrari factory ace Toni Vilander in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3, and MacNeil and Vilander were hard at work in the car on Tuesday.

“Toni brings a wealth of Ferrari knowledge and experience to the table,” MacNeil said. “He knows the make, the model and the team very well. He’s run with Scuderia Corsa before, so as far as team continuity goes, no issues there. Toni is obviously very proven. He’s won Le Mans twice, multiple championships, including most recently last year in World Challenge, so he’s a very competent and accomplished driver.”

  • Meyer Shank Racing, which announced plans on Motul Petit Le Mans weekend to field the No. 57 Acura NSX GT3 in the 2019 GTD class for season-long co-drivers Katherine Legge and Jackie Heinricher, today confirmed plans for its No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 to be shared by Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher, with Justin Marks slated to join the lineup for the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds and NASCAR veteran and 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner AJ Allmendinger in the lineup for the 2019 Rolex 24. Both Heinricher and Allmendinger were on hand for testing at Daytona on Tuesday.

“It’s maybe the longest relationship I’ve ever had,” said Allmendinger of working with team owner Mike Shank. “I think we’re at 13 out of 14 years. It’s always a special race for me. The Rolex 24, the tradition behind it and the names that have been a part of it, let alone win the race, and fortunately enough, we’ve been a part of that. It just always makes it more special to do it with Mike.”

  • Riley Motorsports debuted its Mercedes-AMG GT4 on Tuesday, which is scheduled for a full-season campaign in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Jim Cox and Dylan Murry in the cockpit. The duo previously competed in partial seasons with BGB Motorsports before joining the Bill Riley-led squad. Riley Motorsports’ Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the WeatherTech Championship was also present at DIS on Tuesday with co-drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
  • Other WeatherTech Championship GTD cars on hand at the Michelin on-track opportunity included Lamborghini Huracán GT3s from Paul Miller Racing, Magnus Racing, Grasser Racing Team and Ebimotors, a Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3, a P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, a Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, a Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3. Juncos Racing joined Wayne Taylor Racing in representing Cadillac in the DPi class, with Performance Tech Motorsports participating with its ORECA LMP2 machine. Representing GT Le Mans (GTLM) were Risi Competizione and the Porsche GT Team.
  • A former downhill skier, speed skater, Indy Lights driver and now IMSA champion, Jon Brownson – who took the final MPC class title in the IMSA Prototype Challenge back in October – made his first laps at Daytona in an LMP3 machine on Tuesday. Brownson credits as much seat time as possible to master each of the different race crafts he’s experienced over the years and discussed his transition to the LMP3.

“It’s a great challenge and it’s a wonderful learning experience,” said Brownson. “It’s a steep learning curve, learning what the car likes and doesn’t like and the chance to work with ANSA Motorsports, just a great team. Every time we put the car on the track, it got better as it went along fine tuning it. It’s been a great challenge and one I hope continues to evolve.”

  • Additional IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams on hand Tuesday included the three-car fleet of Racing, the McLaren GT4 of Compass Racing, Rebel Rock’s Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, reigning Grand Sport (GS) champions Team TGM, JDC-Miller Motorsports and a pair of Alfa Romeos.
  • Several IMSA Prototype Challenge team announcements are expected in the coming days following successful outings on Tuesday at Daytona.

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