Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Road America weekend notebook

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Notes from this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event at Road America, the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, are below.

These are in addition to the schedule notes and other elements of this weekend, which will get broken out in later days.

PAUL MILLER LAMBORGHINI HIT WITH HEAVY PENALTY

The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, which had originally qualified sixth in the GT Daytona class, has been hit with a heavy penalty that will send the car to the back of the grid and also has championship implications.

The car’s ECU (electronics control unit) has been confiscated by IMSA, with the team fined $7,500 with the entrant and drivers (Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow) both docked 15 points.

Violations were Article 22.7.1 of IMSA’s Sporting Regulations (Cars out of compliance with the Technical specifications and/or regulations may be penalized up to and including Removal from the results) and Article 4.7.1 of the GTD Technical Regulations (At all times during IMSA-sanctioned Events it is the Entrant’s responsibility to ensure the configuration of the Car Model represents the Homologation components of the Specification; including: a. As-Homologated Configuration b. As-Delivered Configuration c. Parts Manual d. Homologation Extension Form Configuration).

A statement from Paul Miller regarding the No. 48 is below:

“We won’t comment on severity of the penalty or the specifics of the situation, but I’d like to commend the IMSA officials on the professional manner in which they went through their process yesterday.”

SHANK ACURA REPAIRED

Following Katherine Legge’s incident in practice on Saturday, the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 has been fully repaired and got back together before Sunday’s race.

With spares from Acura, Shank and RealTime Racing, the No. 93 car is nearly as good as new. The only new piece brought in was part of a front bar added to the nose assembly from RealTime.

The Shank crew was done in the early evening and out of the track by about 7:30 a.m., in an impressive repair job that went quicker than anticipated.

BINKS’ ANNUAL ROAD AMERICA AUCTION

Dan Binks, crew chief on the No. 3 Corvette C7.R, held the annual benefit auction for Camp Anokijig on Saturday at the Road America Corvette Corral. It helps raise funds for the local camp – which is Native American for “We Serve” – where Binks is both a board member and former camper.

Nearly 40 items were up for auction, including one of the front wheels from the No. 63 Corvette C7.R at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – photographs and paintings. Last year’s auction raised more than $26,000 for the camp, which opened in 1926.

But this year topped it, with the auction raising more than $43,500 for the camp located in nearby Plymouth. The funds will go toward a new ventilation system in the campground’s kitchen and dining commons.

“I can’t say enough about the generosity of everyone who participated at this year’s auction,” Binks said. “It’s really encouraging to be able to improve the experience of our thousands of campers and the Anokijig staff. This means so much to me, my family and everyone at the camp.”

Photos courtesy Corvette Racing

LIGIERS LINE UP SECOND, FOURTH

Photo courtesy of IMSA

It was a good day for both Ligier JS P217 Gibsons on Saturday with Jose Gutierrez getting the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen car into a season-equaling best start of the year in second, and Marc Goossens doing well to get VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s new Ligier into fourth.

“Yesterday was a difficult day because of the weather conditions but this morning we threw some things at it and the Onroak guys together with the VISIT FLORIDA Racing engineering group have given us a great car,” said Goossens.

“It is a matter of being able to touch it first to feel exactly what the car can do and by the time I managed to do that, the tires were no longer at their best. I think a 1:53.8-9 (second lap) would have been possible. We’re on the second row – it’s a big change for the team. I think we have a good race car – we still need to dial it in a little further. But we made quite a few changes – all the small ones together made for one big change. We need to keep tuning it but I think this baseline is pretty good for the race.”

THE TAYLORS GO PODCASTING WITH CONTINENTAL TIRE

Ricky and Jordan Taylor have a new podcast, that’s been announced this weekend. The new BadFast Podcast website is linked here and is sponsored by Continental Tire.

“This is an exciting announcement not just for the IMSA paddock, but for motorsports in general,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. “Partnering with BadFast podcast is one more layer in Continental Tires continued commitment to helping grow the sport of racing in the US. Rob’s experience coupled with the liveliness of the Taylor brothers will offer the perfect foundation to talk about action on-track and happenings off-track. I think fans are really going to enjoy it!”

GOOD READ ON THE TAYLORS

From Radio Show Limited’s John Hindhaugh on the Taylor brothers, here’s a good read on their balancing act both as brothers and teammates. Here’s the feature for Mobil 1 The Grid.

JOHNSON’S CAREER TURNS 300

Mike Johnson, strategist for the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, will have his 300th career race start today in IMSA competition.

PROVISIONAL GRID AND WARMUP RESULTS 

Here’s the provisional starting grid. A couple cars have changed tires and/or starting driver, and the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM has had an engine change.

Meanwhile here’s the results from warmup this morning.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.