Photo courtesy of IMSA

Sports cars: DeltaWing, van der Zande, Acura and more in news

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There’s quite a bit of news that’s come down in the land of sports cars in the last 24-48 hours or so.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • The DeltaWing won’t race at 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Despite Dr. Don Panoz’s announcement to the contrary at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Petit Le Mans, which seemed to catch most off guard, the radical DeltaWing will not in fact race next year’s season opener. The car had got a one-race grandfathering extension but opted not to pursue it. “We have decided not to race in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It has been an incredible four years racing the most innovative car on the track, but as a lean organization Don Panoz decided to focus our efforts on other DeltaWing and Panoz projects.”
  • Panoz has still hired Tom Milner though to lead Panoz Racing. Veteran team owner and manager Tom Milner has been hired to spearhead Panoz Racing’s development of a GT4-spec racing program based on the Panoz Avezzano, the company’s new two-seat aluminum-intensive sports car powered by a front mid-engine mounted American V8. He has worked with Panoz before. A full release is linked here.
  • Van der Zande joins Visit Florida Racing. Renger van der Zande will replace Ryan Dalziel as Marc Goossens’ full season co-driver in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing prototype, which is a new Riley Technologies Mk. 30 Gibson. This is a good move for both parties; although van der Zande hasn’t driven either DP or LMP2-spec cars the last few years – he’s starred in PC with Starworks Motorsport, and won this year’s title – the Dutch driver is a natural to step up given his evolution in sports cars, and he’s renowned as very quick.
  • Acura has confirmed its endurance drivers. Mark Wilkins and Tom Dyer will be the respective third drivers for Michael Shank Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (four races) and will also run with RealTime Racing in their Acuras in Pirelli World Challenge SprintX races, along with Ryan Eversley and Peter Kox. Specific driver groupings haven’t been determined yet; MSR’s four full-time drivers are Andy Lally, Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal and Katherine Legge, and Honda could opt for IndyCar drivers as their fourth drivers in either the No. 86 and/or No. 93 Acuras at the Rolex 24.
  • Mazda, Porsche reveals set for Wednesday in L.A. The Mazda DPi and new Porsche 911 RSR will be revealed on Wednesday at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
  • Land Motorsport, Ebimotors set for Daytona. Connor De Phillippi strongly hinted at it when we spoke earlier this month, but now his Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi team is confirmed to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona (more here from DailySportsCar and more on site from Daytona from Sportscar365). It’s cool to see this as one of several European teams set to run next January. Ebimotors, additionally, is also set to run (more here from Sportscar365).
  • Daytona testing for some, Sebring testing for Ganassi. Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull posted a photo on Tuesday of the team set to test its pair of Ford GTs at Sebring International Raceway. This test is separate from the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, which takes place today and tomorrow.
  • Amy Ruman wins another Trans-Am title. We don’t cover the Trans-Am series here on MST; however, we would be remiss to not mention Amy Ruman has won another Trans-Am title, her second in a row. This past weekend she won her third straight race at Daytona and overcame a nine-point deficit to Paul Fix to win the title, in this, Trans-Am’s 50th anniversary season. “I woke up thinking ‘you know anything can happen, it’s racing,’” said Ruman. “Mechanicals happen. Traffic can play a role.  Paul could win; I could win.  When it boiled down to one race, anything can happen.” More info is linked here.
  • PWC scholarship program expanded. Corey Fergus took advantage of winning PWC’s Touring Car title in 2015 to advance into GT Cup this season via a driver scholarship program. Next year, WC Vision will offer the same opportunity to all three TC class champions (TC-Toby Grahovec, TCA-Elivan Goulart, TCB-Tom O’Gorman) to advance up a step in 2017 if they so desire. More information is linked here via the PWC website.
  • Mazda MX-5 shootout starts today. Today and tomorrow, the 11th annual Mazda Road to 24 Shootout for a $100,000 scholarship into the 2017 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires takes place at NOLA Motorsports Park. Here’s breakout links to the eight candidates and six judges taking part.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

SPOTTER GUIDE: All 29 of this weekend’s paint schemes

IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”