Sebring Weekend Notebook

Photo: John Dagys

***Thirty-four cars are set for the inaugural Porsche Carrera Cup North America rounds, including 23 brand-new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars. Sebring marks the global competition debut for the car.

***The new 911 GT3 Cup is the first race car built on the current generation Porsche 911 road car. The chassis, based on a Turbo model, is built on the assembly line with all road-going 911 models before being pulled for fit and finish with a roll cage and other motorsport trim.

***Seb Priaulx again topped the time charts in Thursday’s final practice session in the No. 15 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry, recording a 2:02.230 lap time in the 30-minute session, which saw a red flag for an incident involving the Pro-Am 991 class No. 8 Goldcrest Motorsports Porsche of Joe Still.

***The Sebring entry list was initially at 35 cars prior to the withdrawal of the Pro-Am 991 class TPC Racing Porsche for Mike Levitas, which was damaged in an accident during the official pre-season test at Sebring last week. 

***Both of MRS GT-Racing’s cars are now competing in the Pro class following the confirmation of Jeff Kingsley and Erik Johansson as its drivers. The German squad had initially entered new-gen cars in both Pro and Pro-Am.

***Sportscar365 understands that Kingsley, who won last year’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship, is currently signed for this weekend only. 

***BGB Motorsports’ Thomas Collingwood, meanwhile, has moved from the Pro to Pro-Am class, meaning that the split (14 Pro, 9 Pro-Am) remains unchanged.

***While each team received their new cars on Feb. 19, the ECUs were locked until the official two-day test on March 8-9 to ensure a “level playing field” according to Porsche. Pro drivers not entered for the season were banned from taking part in the official test.

***Both Kelly-Moss and 311RS Motorsport tested at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta immediately after the Sebring test, with former Supercup star Jeroen Bleekemolen turning his first laps in the new-gen car.

***Bleekemolen served as a driver coach with Kelly-Moss at the Road Atlanta test and is supporting longtime co-driver Tim Pappas this weekend. The Dutchman told Sportscar365 that Pappas plans to contest the majority of Carrera Cup races this year in the JDX Racing-entered machine.

***Bryan Sellers, meanwhile, is helping out at Goldcrest Motorsports, which is fielding five previous-gen Porsches in the Pro-Am 991 class this weekend. Goldcrest is also the team behind the two Pro class entries under the 311RS banner for Ryan Gates and Leh Keen, who makes his pro racing return.

***The last three winners of the Hurley Haywood Scholarship winners are taking part in the series: Max Root (2018), Sean McAllister (2019) and Riley Dickinson (2020). 

***Wright Motorsports is the busiest team in the paddock, fielding five entries between the four races of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Michelin Pilot Challenge and Porsche Carrera Cup North America this weekend. It includes the collaborative entry with Moorespeed for Root.

“We’ve been able to build some strong programs, and our new shop in Stuart, Fla. has helped make the logistics of all these programs as smooth as possible,” said team owner John Wright. “I’m proud of everyone on the team for getting us ready to not only resume our GTD and GT4 programs, but to also get everything ready for a three-car debut in the new Porsche Carrera Cup North America.”

***Michelin has developed the all-new Pilot Sport Cup N3 tire specifically for the car. It marks the first time a Porsche single-make series will run on Michelin tires in the U.S., with GT3 Cup Challenge Canada having run on Michelins for a few seasons in the 2010’s.

***Multimatic has been chosen by Porsche to supply the spec damper on the Type-992 car. It is the first Cup car to have a double wishbone front suspension, just as the 911 GT3 road car, which is set for delivery in North America this summer.

***Priaulx’s No. 15 Kelly-Moss Porsche is sporting a Multimatic livery, owing to the 20-year-old’s status as a Multimatic-contracted driver. 

***Priaulx and seven other drivers are part of the inaugural Porsche Junior Program North America program. An adaption of the long-running Porsche Young Driver Academy, the program looks to make an impact on drivers 23-years-old-and-younger both on-track and off through technical, physical, mental, marketing and media training.

***McAlister, Root, Dickinson, Kay van Berlo, Parker Thompson, Seb Carazo and Dylan Murry are the others that will be vying for a chance to represent North America in the end-of-year Porsche Junior Shootout in Germany.

***Longtime Skip Barber Race School instructor and former Porsche Trophy West series race director Randy Buck is serving as race director of Carrera Cup North America, which is managed by Porsche but sanctioned by IMSA. Porsche Motorsport North America’s Brian Blocker oversees the day-to-day activity of the series.

***A 30-minute qualifying session will get underway at 12:25 p.m. ET to set the grid for this afternoon’s opening round, which is set for a 5:30 p.m. start. Race 2 will get underway at 10:10 a.m. on Friday, with both races streamed live on IMSA.tv and featuring the IMSA Radio commentary team.

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