TRG ASTON MARTIN DEBUTS — After months of delays, TRG’s Aston Martin Vantage debuts in this weekend’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (5 p.m. ET, Live! FOX Sports 1). AMR factory driver Darren Turner, fresh off the FIA WEC Six Hours of Sao Paulo, has joined Brandon Davis, a winner in last month’s Pirelli World Challenge round, at the wheel of GT3-based machine.
Davis qualified the V12-powered beast in 10th, a respectable effort considering the number of changes made to the car, including heavily revised aero and a switch to the class-mandated Bosch ECU system.
“It’s still really early days with the car in this configuration,” Turner said. “We came over, did a little test at Buttonwillow, more of a system checks. Now at the moment it’s a learning curve on how to make the Continental Tire work on the smaller aero package and also the Bosch system is completely different than we have on the GT3 car.
“We have to go through all of the stuff that we did with the GT3 two years ago of what makes it work in GRAND-AM spec. Every time we go out, we’re learning something new. There’s a nice, long problem list, which you always get with running a car in a different configuration.”
BUMPER FIELD — Sunday’s penultimate round of the Rolex Series will see one of the largest fields this year, with 34 cars set to start the two-hour and 45-minute race. It includes 16 Daytona Prototypes, the highest entry since the Circuit of the Americas round in March.
Additions include a second Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-BMW for its IndyCar stars Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, along with the return the Highway to Help/50+ Racing entry for Jim Pace and Byron Defoor.
Besides the debuting TRG Aston Martin, the GT class is bolstered by the No. 03 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari, while a Lotus Evora has been entered in the GX category, which increases the soon-to-be-eliminated class to four entries.
NOTES FROM THE PADDOCK
**Look for a 12-round schedule for United SportsCar Racing next year, likely including a GT-only race at Long Beach and Prototype-only round in Detroit. The calendar is expected to be released during or before the next ALMS round at COTA.
**Turner Motorsport is closing in on its 2014 USCR program, with Will Turner predicting a two-car effort for GTD. The team is in discussions with two manufacturers, including BMW, which could see its Z4 GT3 adapted to the yet-to-be-confirmed GTD regulations.
**Sunday’s race marks the one-year anniversary of Scuderia Corsa’s arrival into the Rolex Series. While Alessandro Balzan claimed pole here last year, the Italian currently leads the GT championship standings and is on the heels of his and the team’s maiden victory in Kansas.
**The Audi R8 GRAND-AM car is permitted to now run its FIA GT3-homologated diffuser, which is expected to increase downforce and stability. The Balance of Performance adjustment, however, comes at the cost of a 25-pound weight penalty.Aston Martin Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Dario Franchitti, Darren Turner, GRAND-AM, IndyCar, Scott Dixon, Sports Cars