IMSA releases entry list for iRacing Pro Series event at Laguna Seca

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The IMSA iRacing Pro Series will returns Thursday at 6 p.m. ET with Round 2 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The 50-driver field will consist of pro drivers who have competed in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Michelin Pilot Challenge, Protoype Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.

The 90-minute virtual race will be available on iRacing’s YouTube channel and Facebook page as well as driver Twitch channels.

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the Laguna Seca field

Among drivers in the field:

–Colton Herta, who won the IndyCar finale at Laguna Seca last year;

–NBC analysts A.J. Allmendinger and Townsend Bell;

–IMSA veterans Filipe Albuquerque, Laurens Vanthoor, Jack Hawksworth;

–Past real-life IMSA winners at Laguna Seca include: John Edwards and Connor De Phillippi (GLTM, 2017-18); Porsche winners Jeroen Bleekemolen, Nick Tandy, Patrick Long; Colin Braun; Alessandro Balzan; Richard Westbrook.

Click here for the entry list for Thursday’s race at Laguna Seca.

Drivers will have a choice of four GTLM cars in each IMSA iRacing Pro Series race: the BMW M8, Porsche 911 RSR, Ferrari 488 and Ford GT.

The series opened with the March 21 race at Sebring International Raceway that featured a podium sweep by BMW. Winner Bruno Spengler, runner-up Nicky Catsburg and Jesse Krohn all have returned for Laguna Seca.

According to IMSA, the race at virtual Laguna Seca will feature drivers from 15 countries spanning four continents.

After Laguna Seca, the series will hold four more races:

April 30 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

May 14 – IMSA venue to be determined

May 28 – IMSA venue to be determined

June 11 – Watkins Glen International

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds