Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring – Saturday Notebook
Saturday, November 9, 2019

The second annual Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore weekend kicked off on Saturday with three practice sessions for the LMP3, GT3 and GT4 racecars competing in Sunday’s four-hour endurance race at Sebring International Raceway.

The fastest lap time in each class was set during the final practice in the midafternoon, with rain dampening the first session and the track warming up during midday practice.

Fastest of the day was the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P3 at one minute, 58.077 seconds (114.026) in the IMSA Prototype Challenge. Lance Willsey is co-driving the LMP3 this weekend with Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew, who was recently announced as a full-time IndyCar driver with McLaren in 2020.

Of GT3 cars, the reunited duo of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow was fastest with a time of 2:00.731 (111.520 mph) in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Lastly, the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 was quickest in the GT4 class at 2:11.927, with Robby Foley and Vin Barletta behind the wheel this weekend.

The Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore goes green on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. ET with live streaming available on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary. Qualifying is set for 9:35 a.m., with a 45-minute grid walk beginning at 11:10 a.m.

Tickets will be sold at the Sebring International Raceway gate for $10 apiece with overnight RV parking available for $20. Military veterans with ID will be admitted free throughout this Veterans Day weekend event.

McAleer Looking for 2019 Sebring Sweep in IMSA Prototype Challenge

After winning the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Sebring this past March, Stevan McAleer and the Robillard Racing team are looking to double their luck with another IPC win at the iconic circuit.

McAleer will be co-driving alongside team owner Joe Robillard in the No. 43 Norma M30 LMP3 racecar. Robillard entered all but the season opener at Daytona International Speedway this past January in IPC and co-drove with McAleer at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July. Meanwhile, McAleer finished third in the championship standings at season’s end.

“This is my favorite track in the country,” said McAleer. “It was nice to get a win. It’s just a place I spend a lot of time here. After first practice, we were actually really fast, I think. The car wasn’t great, and the lap times were still there. I do think we have a shot of winning. It’d be nice to get the both of them, the race in March and the four-hour Encore. That’s the plan, but the real plan is to get Joe as much seat time as possible. He’s already excited about 2020. He wants to get as much time in the car.” 

Root Steps Up into Wright’s Porsche 911 GT3 R

Max Root is behind the wheel this weekend at Sebring, but in a different GT3 racecar than he’s used to. The Wright Motorsports driver is getting his first experience in a Porsche 911 GT3 R after completing a successful second season in the one-make Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series.

A junior at Pepperdine University, Root broke through for his first GT3 Cup Challenge USA win at VIR in August and racked up two more victories by the end of the season.

“GT3 Cup is a great platform for drivers of all ages to develop your skills,” said Root. “It’s one of the hardest cars to drive perfectly and at the limit and I think all those skills transition to the GT3 car. It was a no brainer to go with the Porsche. It’s the best car and the best manufacturer. Once I got the call and the opportunity from Wright, it was a dream of mine just to get in the car. Sebring is a great course to do it at, so I’m really happy we were able to put it together.”

Root will be racing in the four-hour enduro in Wright’s No. 16 Porsche alongside Jan Heylen and Ryan Hardwick.

“It’s been an awesome experience so far,” said Root. “I think Wright Motorsports has put together a really easy to drive car today. It was a nice transition going from a Cup car with no traction control, no ABS into something will all the aero, traction control and ABS and it’s a lot more complicated.”

Murry Does an Encore on First Professional Season of Racing

After an impressive first full season of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition Dylan Murry is looking to cap off the year with one last win at the Encore.

The Georgia native and recent high school graduate earned his first professional victory in the IMSA Prototype Challenge at Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course in May and followed that up with his first Pilot Challenge victory the next race at Watkins Glen International.

Teaming up with Riley Motorsports this past season, Murry and co-driver Jim Cox will be back in the same No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 machine on Sunday for the four-hour race, hoping to improve on their fourth-place showing at the 3.74-mile circuit back in March.

“This year went a lot better than I expected it to,” Murry said. “Having the chance to run with a team like Riley Motorsports for the first time, with how good they are of a team, has really been incredible. Everything they do is immaculate. It has to be perfect and no second-place trophies are allowed on the truck! I learned that lesson the hard way. It really has been a pleasure to race with them full season and going into next year, doing a full season with them is going to be incredible.”