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Petit Le Mans: Pre-Race Paddock Notes

Notes before the IMSA 50 finale

One couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day for a season finale in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the 22nd running of Motul Petit Le Mans. Here are the notes from a hectic Saturday morning, all info gathered prior to the race start at 12:05 PM EDT.

Just as a reminder, for those watching internationally, the race is on IMSA.tv, and IMSA Radio (RSL Channel 2). Those trackside can listen to the IMSA Radio broadcast on 98.1 FM local.

In the United States, the race will be shown from 12-3 PM EDT on NBC, 3-5:30 on the NBC Sports App, and 5:30 to the chequered flag on NBCSN.

Vautier fastest in Warm-Up

Fastest man in the warmups was Tristan Vautier in the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. The #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 (Dane Cameron/Juan Pablo Montoya/Simon Pagenaud) was 4th in DPi, while the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac (Eric Curran/Felipe Nasr/Pipo Derani) did not post a representative lap, forgoing the risk of a warm-up shunt.

Gabriel Aubry paced LMP2 in the #52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07, Dirk Müller was fastest in LMP2 in the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT, and the #96 Liqui-Moly Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen paced GTD.

New C8.R to pace the field before the race

By the time this article is published, Chevrolet’s new Corvette C8.R will have completed its first ceremonial racing laps prior to the race start, the first time the car will take to the track in public before its 2020 debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Tommy Milner was given the honour of giving the car its first laps around the circuit, only fitting after his years of test driving to make the car a reality.

Read more about the new Corvette C8.R in our in-depth launch coverage from Thursday!

While one Corvette will head up the grid, another will be sent further back than anticipated overnight…

#3 Corvette sent to back of GTLM grid

The #3 Corvette Racing C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, and Mike Rockenfeller have been displaced from the front row of the GTLM field after their car failed post-qualifying technical inspection.

Garcia’s time would have been quick enough for 2nd behind pole winner James Calado, but his car was excluded for falling afoul of rear wing position compliance per IMSA Sporting Regulations article 22.7.1.

They’ll start from 22nd on the overall grid, and there’s still plenty of time to make up ground in a race where starting position does not often correlate to finishing result.

Ford attempting to sell GTs to privateers

Today’s Petit Le Mans marks the end of the factory Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT programme after four seasons.

As for the future of the fleet of GTs, it has been confirmed by multiple sources that Ford is attempting to sell those cars to privateer teams, teams whose identities are yet to be known at this point in time. “Ford could sell these cars to collectors tomorrow,” a source within the team told us Friday night after qualifying, “but they’d prefer to see these cars racing.” Quite a change from the original stance of factory exclusivity from start to stop.

The trouble seems to be finding a team that’s the right fit for perhaps the most complex GTE vehicle to operate in the paddock come 2020. If they do find new homes, will it be in IMSA? Will it be in WEC?

Michelin Endurance Cup and “any races we can afford” for Juncos in 2020

Juncos Racing will be on the grid next season for the 2020 Michelin Endurance Cup portion of the IMSA season. After that, team owner Ricardo Juncos has said that any additional races on the calendar will be determined based on their budget.

This will be in addition to another partial schedule in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Magnus Racing’s future expected to be announced soon

Another team whose immediate future may be up in the air is GTD mainstays Magnus Racing.

Outgoing public relations representative Sean Heckman has told DSC that an announcement will be imminent regarding what their plans will be for the 2020 season.

2019 represented Magnus Racing’s “10th-ish” Anniversary and many are hoping that it won’t be the last time we’ll see the fun-loving squad competing at the highest levels of sports car racing.

Safe passage to all, and to all, a great race.