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35 Cars Set For IMSA’s Sebring Test

New BoP for the GTLM runners and a few driver changes of note

Many of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams and drivers are back in action again in Florida this week, taking part in the optional pre-Sebring 12 Hours test at the historic airfield circuit.

The list features 14 cars in Prototype, eight in GTLM and 13 in GTD; the latter the class suffering the biggest hit of the three in numbers since Daytona. However, IMSA Radio sources suggest that there will be at least eight additional cars for the race proper next month.

In the top category, recent changes to a couple of the teams are reflected. United Autosports – which will compete with a single JS P217 for the remaining NAEC rounds – sees Paul Di Resta rejoin the team, racing alongside Bruno Senna as he did in Daytona, and Phil Hanson, who competed with Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris in the opener.

Nelson Panciatici meanwhile, is entered in the #85 JDC Miller ORECA, the Frenchman announcing that he’ll make his debut with the team at the 12 Hours. He’ll test alongside Robert Alon and Simon Trummer, who make up the trio, after the full season duo raced with four drivers at Rolex – Devlin DeFrancesco and Austin Cindric the absent duo here.

While there’s no BoP changes in Prototype for the test, the DPis in the field will run for the first time this season with the high-downforce aero kits which they will use for the remaining rounds of the 2018 season.

In GTLM, there’s eight cars, the notable omission being the #3 Corvette. Pratt and Miller’s crew has opted to test with just a single C7.R for Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

Risi Competizione, which is likely to run a scaled-back IMSA programme this year, will also be taking part alongside the class regulars, its 488 GTE entered with just Toni Vilander in the driver seat.

Outside of general testing programmes for the GTLM runners, this test will see BMW’s M8 GTLM run with a new BoP after the team’s tough debut in Daytona.

The car, which struggled for raw pace, prompting a discussion between BMW and the rule-makers during Rolex, will run with an increase in power between 5000-7500rpm. At the test, BMW will run two cars; the team’s reserve driver Colton Herta set to drive both.

Ford and Porsche have also had changes to BoP for Sebring, the 911 handed an extra two litres of fuel, while the Ford GT in turn loses two.

And in GTD, in addition to there being eight fewer cars than at Rolex, there’s a few driver changes of note.

In the Lexus camp, Sean Rayhall will make his debut, the reigning ELMS LMP3 champion set to compete with the team at Sebring and Petit this year in the #15 RCF’s third seat. The sister #14 car meanwhile, lists a TBA in the seat filled by Philipp Frommenwiler in Daytona.

Further down the list, current Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Alessio Picarello will make his IMSA debut in the Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS alongside Chris Mies and Sheldon van der Linde.

Jeroen Bleekemolen has switched Mercedes for the test, the Dutchman entered in the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes AMG GT3; the Riley Team AMG Mercedes he drove in January not listed. Bleekemolen incidentally tested a Risi Ferrari at CoTA earlier this week ahead of the Keating/Risi joint effort in the GTE AM class at Le Mans in June.

On the BoP front, the key difference from the season opener is that there’s a 1 mm larger air restrictor for the Lamborghini Huracan GT3. The Mercedes AMG GT3s meanwhile will run with a 1mm air restrictor reduction and a 5kg weight break.

Many of the Prototype Challenge, CTSC and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge entries from the USA and Canada series are also present at the test, the running starting yesterday for the support series.

For the WeatherTech teams, the two days of action begins tomorrow.