While the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar teams are yet to arrive at Sebring International Raceway, the FIA World Endurance Championship paddock is a hive of activity ahead of tomorrow’s free practice.
All 34 cars are on site, with pit tents set up and ready to go in the new WEC-specific pit lane paralleling the back straight.
Tuesday’s big news is that Team Project 1 (photo above) has successfully sourced a new Porsche for race week, its primary 911 RSR having burned to the ground in Sunday pre-event testing.
The team told RACER it will use the 911 RSR ordered from Porsche for its European Le Mans Series assault later this year. The car is due to arrive tonight and be should be ready to run tomorrow, although it will almost certainly miss the opening track session as the team must first complete various engine and sensor tasks.
While the car is brand new, it was shaken down before being air-freighted to the U.S. from Germany.
Elsewhere, at least two teams will have new color schemes for the Sebring 1000. Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari will run in black for the sponsors of its returning driver Luis Perez Companc, having removed the chrome Shanghai livery marking the retirement of veteran Weng Sun Mok.
Corvette Racing will also fly new colors in central Florida — well, sort of. Out is the silver-black-red the team ran at Shanghai; in is the traditional yellow used in its IMSA program.
Corvette’s WEC GTE Pro C7.R will be paddocked in the team’s IMSA WeatherTech space, alongside the pair of GTLM C7.Rs that will compete in Saturday’s 12 Hours.
As a side note, a number of Greaves Motorsport personnel, including Jacob Greaves, are in Sebring assisting Corvette Racing with its WEC effort. Greaves’ team bring a wealth of experience, having won the ELMS LMP2 title in 2015 and their class at Le Mans in 2011.
The paddocks for both FIA WEC and IMSA WeatherTech entries are located along the back straight, in a long line separated by the massive Michelin tire compound which will service WEC and IMSA, along with all of the latter’s supporting series.
On the subject of tires, it will be an interesting week in the ongoing WEC LMP2 tire war. Dunlop will debut the new ‘C’ spec LMP2 tire destined for the 2018/19 FIA WEC ‘Super Season’ and carrying its hopes of securing a 46th consecutive class win.
The move comes after Michelin released its ‘C’ spec tire late last year and enjoyed an uptick in performance in the ELMS – particularly on the Ligier JS P217 chassis – prompting some teams to switch ahead of the new season.
Dunlop tested its new LMP2 tire alongside its ‘A’ and ‘B’ spec rubber through the offseason at several circuits in Europe and at Sebring with ORECA, Ligier and Dallara chassis, and chose Sebring to debut its new compound, not only because of commercial benefits but also because of the circuit’s uniquely challenging surface.
Jackie Chan DC Racing and TDS Racing will field the new Dunlops in Florida, while after completing a back-to-back test of Michelin and Dunlop in preparation for its title defense, 2018 ELMS LMP2 champion G-Drive Racing seems likely to remain on Dunlops.
Signatech Alpine, Dragonspeed, Racing Team Netherlands and Larbre Competition will all run Michelins.
That means not only will Michelin supply every car in the three IMSA championships this weekend at Sebring, but also 21 of the 24 WEC entries, with Dunlop the only other tire manufacturer represented and supplying just three cars.
Official on-track action begins tomorrow for the FIA WEC runners, with the first two practice sessions. The IMSA teams all will hit the track for the first time on Thursday.