Indianapolis Friday Notebook

Photo: Sarah Weekes/SRO

***The Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS field assembled for a parade on North Main Street in Speedway, Ind. this evening (pictured above), enabling local fans to get up close to the cars that are competing in this weekend’s event. Festivities included an autograph session and a live band.

***AKKA-ASP was excused from attending the parade due to its original Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo still being in transit due to a sea-freight delay. The French team has been using a spare DXDT Racing car in the meantime. Its car is set to arrive tomorrow between 4 and 6 a.m. according to a Mercedes-AMG spokesperson.

***Audi has not encountered any freight-related logistical issues for the event according to its head of customer racing Chris Reinke, who said their schedule has actually been “loosened up” due to the cancelations of the Suzuka 10 Hours and FIA GT World Cup in Macau. Audi opted to air-freight its cars to Indianapolis.

***The No. 3 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo lost time in Thursday’s test session after contact between Jordan Pepper and a GT4 car that resulted in a bent tie rod according to team manager Thomas Blam.

***The newly crowned Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS championship-winning car returned to action in Friday’s Free Practice, setting the 14th quickest time overall.

***Classic BMW is changing the chassis of its No. 11 BMW M4 GT4 “due to a faulty component and no spares available,” according to a stewards’ bulletin.  

***Free Practice was reduced from 90 minutes to 75 minutes under force majeure, due to barrier repairs delaying the start of the session. Some of the lost time was recouped at the end of the session, eating into the scheduled lunch break.

***Defending racer winner Connor De Phillippi completes Turner Motorsport’s lineup in the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3, which appears set for its final appearance in top-level SRO competition this weekend prior to the launch of the new BMW M4 GT3 next year. The American BMW factory driver was part of Walkenhorst Motorsport’s winning lineup at this race in 2020.

“I wouldn’t say the competition is higher [this year] but the depth is way deeper,” De Phillippi told Sportscar365. “We had four, five cars last year that were really strong. This year you have ten cars that are super, super strong with full factory support.”

***De Phillippi and co-drivers Michael Dinan and Robby Foley completed a two-day test at the track earlier this year.

***Markus Winkelhock has been given dispensation to leave the track straight after his final stint in No. 25 Audi Sport Team Sainteloc car to catch a flight back home to Germany, where his partner is due to give birth. Winkelhock was also permitted to leave early from last weekend’s GTWC Europe race at Barcelona.

***Audi’s Reinke revealed that last year’s single-car effort from Team Hardpoint/WRT was was “completely remote” from Europe due to the restrictions on personnel amid COVID-19 protocols.

“From everyone involved I think it was a great effort and a great success that we kept [the event] alive, even through all of these sanctions,” Reinke told Sportscar365. “Us running the car completely remote from Europe was a unique thing. There were a lot of unknowns that we brought together to keep our support up. That was a great venture.”

***The Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II has reached “release status” following successful test outings in 24H Series and SRO competition recently. Reinke told Sportscar365 that he expects the majority of teams to opt for update kits due to the volume of existing cars in the market worldwide.

***Reinke said it’s “quite likely” that both Team WRT and Sainteloc Racing will run Audi Sport entries in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season-ending Kyalami 9 Hour. Both teams have already announced customer efforts for the Dec. 4 enduro.

***SunEnergy1 Racing is currently “50/50” on competing in Kyalami according to team owner/driver Kenny Habul, who cited the current COVID-19 situation in South Africa.

***Habul, however, has confirmed plans to contest both the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai and Gulf 12 Hours with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo run by SPS Automotive Performance.

***Craft-Bamboo Racing needs to decide “imminently” if it will contest Kyalami, according to team director Darryl O’Young. The team is hoping to enter the round but would need to rely on a timely shipment of cars and parts from Hong Kong to South Africa, due to a lack of local Mercedes-AMG customers.

***Pirelli has brought more than 3,000 tires to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend’s races, totaling six trucks and a staff of almost 30 people.

***Indianapolis marks the introduction of Pirelli’s upgraded wet tire specification tire in North America, which has already seen action in Europe this year. Friday’s rain-affected Free Practice gave the chance for GTWC America teams to try out the updated product, which is being periodically rolled out in each SRO market in line with each region’s IGTC round.

***Pirelli’s circuit technical manager Matteo Braga hinted at the potential timeline for the upgraded wet tire: “We think that we will keep this product for two or three years, and then maybe plan one more step,” he told Sportscar365.

***Pirelli had to airfreight a container of tires and equipment over to the U.S due to delays in an original container’s sea-based shipment. “Today, you cannot work with the lead times that we had in the past,” explained Braga. “They are more or less double than they were. That’s the really complicated part of the logistics.”

***Legendary motorsports broadcaster Bob Varsha will join the SRO America broadcast team of Ryan Myrehn, Calvin Fish and Amanda Busick for coverage of this weekend’s race. Varsha previously hosted coverage of the California 8 Hours and was part of SRO’s broadcast team in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa as well.

***Live streaming coverage on SRO’s GT World YouTube page will begin with Saturday’s Pre-Qualifying, which gets underway at 8:30 a.m. ET., followed by qualifying at 2 p.m. and the full race on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. 

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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