Surprise! Turner Motorsports announced today that they're now going to run a full season in TUDOR United SportsCar. The Z4 GT3 that they run just got a rather favorable Balance of Performance adjustment. That may or may not be related, but we're glad Turner's back, anyway.
According to IMSA, Turner will campaign the #97 BMW Z4 GT3 in the GT Daytona class for the entire ten-race 2015 season, going back on their earlier announcement that they will only run a limited schedule in TUSC. Markus Palttala and Michael Marsal will drive the car all season long.
Turner won both team and driver championships in 2014 for the GTD class.
The Z4's restrictor size increase is less of a factor than you think it might be for Daytona. Restrictors and weight are tools used by IMSA to even out the performance among different cars that run in TUSC. The bigger the restrictor, the more air flows through the intake, and the more horsepower a car can make. While increasing the single restrictor run by the Z4 GT3 by 19mm sounds like an impressive horsepower bump, in reality, this just brings Turner back to the restrictor size they had at Daytona last year.
Let's not forget the other Balance of Performance tool in IMSA's stable, though: weight.
"IMSA announced the balance-of-performance adjustment for Daytona last week, and our car must be 35 kilos heavier than it was last year at Daytona but it is allowed the same size restrictor as Daytona in 2014," explained team owner Will Turner to RACER.
Perhaps Turner just waited on this announcement until all the funding was lined up for their impressive multiple-series run instead. They're running a full two-car effort in Pirelli World Challenge next year as well, where they will also race Z4 GT3s.
"I have been working on putting this [TUSC] program together since the last race – I'm happy to say that everything just fell into place this past weekend - now my guys are going to have to work round the clock to get the car ready for Daytona," explained Will Turner to IMSA.
Just announced today was the addition of Andy Priaulx for the North American Endurance Cup rounds of the series. NAEC includes all the longest, most recognizable rounds of the season: Daytona, Sebring, Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen. Priaulx comes directly from competing in a Z4 GT3 in TUSC's GT Le Mans class with Team RLL in 2014, so he's already somewhat familiar with the car as well.
With Priaulx comes additional sponsorship from the IHG Rewards Club, a hotel rewards program. While being able to run a larger restrictor certainly helps on the big oval of Daytona, we're thinking that's not the only factor that led Turner to make this late announcement.
Who's their fourth driver needed for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, then? Well, they're looking for a Silver-rated driver, in case anybody needs a ride.
"Andy is a fantastic addition to the team; the IHG® Rewards Club partnership is especially exciting for us. Now we need to decide on our fourth driver and our driver lineup will be complete for Daytona. Fast, experienced silvers are not easy to find but I am confident that we will choose the best option in the next few days," explained Turner to RACER.
There's a lot of experienced talent that got downgraded to a Silver driver rating this year, so hopefully Turner's search won't last too long.
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