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2023 12 Hours of Sebring: Wednesday Afternoon Paddock Notes

It’s all smiles on the IMSA half of the paddock at Sebring International Raceway, as Wednesday activities have wrapped up.

Thursday will be the first day that the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship takes to the track, in preparation for the 71st annual 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday.

AO Racing’s garage now has large, tropical foliage fit for ‘Rexy’s’ debut race – as well as an inflatable dinosaur, St. Patrick’s Day-themed no less, on top of the team hauler!

Here’s some of the other stories from the paddock, curated during the back half of Wednesday…

JDC-Miller Motorsports on course to receive Porsche 963 ‘by late April’

The status of the first-year customer Porsche 963s has been a topic of discussion. Hertz Team JOTA and Proton Competition will receive their cars later in the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Meanwhile, in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, JDC-Miller Motorsports is awaiting delivery of its own customer Porsche 963. The team has been running in LMP3 since, with its #85 Duquiene D08 carrying a sticker that says, “My Other Car Is A Porsche” along the sides.

DSC spoke with JDC-Miller Motorsports owner John Church today, who confirmed that the team will take delivery of its 963 by late April. This lines up with the expected delivery dates for JOTA and Proton’s 963s, both expected in late April and early May.

Church said that if the car arrives by the end of April, then the #5 Porsche will make its IMSA debut at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the fourth round of the championship.

Campbell: Rain could be ‘a very good equaliser’ on race day

The weather outlook for Super Sebring week began with the threat of rain and thunderstorms on Saturday during the 12 Hours.

If the rain is coming on race day, then Matt Campbell of Porsche Penske Motorsport believes that the LMDh manufacturers’ lack of relevant experience with their new cars and the new Michelin wet-weather tyre could have a significant impact on the running order.

“I think there’s a lot of unknowns,” said Campbell, “because no one I think from WEC or IMSA has necessarily much experience with the new Michelin wet tyre, and also with these cars. So I think there will be more unknowns if the weather conditions are changing on Saturday. And it’ll also be a very good equaliser for everyone. Because as we know from IMSA events, so much strategy is involved.”

Forecasted conditions have improved since the start of the week, at least, but the threat of rain is still present for Saturday.

Second Triarsi Competizione Ferrari arrives

Triarsi Competizione has a backup Ferrari 296 GT3 ready just in case something happens in the build-up to the race.

Though Triarsi is new to the IMSA scene, it comes prepared with recent experience in SRO America – and this is another home race for the team, based in Orlando – not too far from Sebring.

Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying interrupted by accidents; GS grid to be set by points

Two separate incidents during qualifying for the Michelin Pilot Challenge series Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 meant that no one in the Grand Sport (GT4) category could set a competitive lap time.

Both Frank DePew, driver of the #71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4, and Sean McAlister, driver of the #39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, were evaluated and released from the circuit medical centre after their respective incidents.

Crews from both teams are already well into repair work with the hope that they’ll be ready for tomorrow’s race.

The grid will be set by Teams’ championship points – which means that the #83 BGB Motorsports Porsche of Thomas Collingwood and Spencer Pumpelly, which finished second in the BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona, will start from the pole as the highest-ranked car in the Teams’ championship that entered this week.

The #72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 (Kenny Murillo/Christian Szymczak) will start second, followed by the #58 Crucial Motorsports McLaren Artura GT4 (Michael O’Brien/Aurora Straus) in third, and the #23 JTR Motorsports Engineering Mercedes (Anthony McIntosh/Jared Thomas) in fourth.

Pombo wins TCR pole for LA Honda World

There were no such interruptions in TCR qualifying as Mat Pombo won the pole for him and co-driver Ryan Eversley in the #37 LA Honda World Racing Civic, their second pole of the season.

The #17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS (Chris Miller/Mikey Taylor) qualified just behind them in second, with a gap to the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N (Mark Wilkins/Mason Filippi) in third.

Road Shagger Racing’s “Gen 1” Audi gets one more race

Daytona was meant to be the final race for Road Shagger Racing’s first-generation Audi RS3 TCR before taking on a second-generation model for the remainder of the Michelin Pilot Challenge season.

But the team has opted to give its old car a final, final hurrah at Sebring instead. A shortage of spare parts for the new car means that it’s not yet ready for action.

Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley won at Sebring in 2021 with the first-gen Audi. They’ll start tenth in their class tomorrow.

There are three 90-minute Practice sessions for the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship: Practice 1 at 10:10 A.M., Practice 2 at 3:50 P.M., and Practice 3 at 7:45 P.M. (all times EDT)

The Michelin Pilot Challenge series Alan Jay Automotive Group 120 starts tomorrow at 1:20 P.M.

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