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Sebring heats up with four days of IMSA testing this week

Written by  Feb 19, 2018

While the Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is slightly less than a month away, Sebring International Raceway will host a plethora of IMSA competitors this week with a four-day test that begins Tuesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday will feature race cars from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama. The cars and stars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be on track Thursday and Friday.

A total of 18 cars have been entered for Continental Tire Challenge testing – 16 from the Grand Sport (GS) class and two TCR machines. There are six Mercedes-AMG race cars on the GS entry list, four Ford Mustang GT4s, three McLaren GT4s and one each from Porsche, BMW and Aston Martin. In TCR, there is one Volkswagen and one Audi. There will be a total of three Continental Tire Challenge sessions this week, two on Tuesday and one on Wednesday afternoon.

The Continental Tire Challenge entry list features eight Floridians: Guy Cosmo in the No. 4 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG, who hails from Palm Beach Gardens; Alan Brynjolfsson from Tampa in the No. 7 VOLT Racing Mustang; James Cox, of Nokomis, in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 MR; Orlando’s Paul Holton in the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren; Tyler Cooke, of Ft. Lauderdale, in the No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4; Ramin Abdolvahabi in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage; and a pair of Floridians sharing the No. 75 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR, Roy Block from Winter Park and Pierre Kleinubing, who hails from Coconut Creek.

The IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, which opened its season with a one-hour, 45-minute race at Daytona International Speedway during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona last month, will have eight entries for its three on-track sessions at Sebring. There will be six LMP3 cars and two Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries, with one Floridian – Joel Janco, from Key Largo, in the No. 25 P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada series will run together for three sessions at the test on Tuesday and Wednesday – just as they will when they kick off their respective 2018 seasons next month at Sebring – with a total of 11 entries between them. Canadian driver Roman De Angelis, who won the season-opening IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda race at Daytona, and 2018 IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner Max Root – of San Diego, California – highlight the GT3 Cup entries.

A total of 35 WeatherTech Championship cars are expected when testing kicks off Thursday morning, led by 14 Prototype class entries. Among them are 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R and 2017 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Prototype winners Jordan and Ricky Taylor.

Jordan Taylor will share the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with his new-for-2018 full-season co-driver Renger van der Zande, while Ricky Taylor has moved to the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi race car with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and IndyCar star Graham Rahal as his co-drivers.

The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class includes eight entries at the test, including 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona class winners Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Corvette Racing, which has won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring the past three years, is bringing one car to the test, the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R for co-drivers Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

The GT Daytona (GTD) class features a 13-car entry list, led by the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with 2017 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GTD winner Mario Farnbacher co-driving alongside Justin Marks – fresh from a 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500 – and Lawson Aschenbach.

Also on the GTD entry list are two-time defending series champions Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan – who also are past Sebring winners. Nielsen will share the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Patrick Long, Robert Renauer and Mathieu Jaminet, while Balzan is in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 with Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette.

The WeatherTech Championship will have a total of five sessions – three on Thursday, including the inaugural night session of the annual February test from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, and two more on Friday.

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