Although there was only one on-track session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, plus a four-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race, Friday was still busy enough at the Daytona International Speedway ahead of this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
One of the challenges in sports car racing is ensuring a fully level playing field exists and that’s something IMSA strives to do, particularly with the amount of data it gathers via a detailed data logging system in technical partnership with Bosch.
IMSA’s Simon Hodgson, VP of Competition, confirmed Friday the sanctioning body had gathered 66 gigabytes of data just from the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, held earlier this month.
This week, some competitors have voiced concerns over “sandbagging” – the practice where manufacturers hold back ultimate performance in hopes they will be rewarded with a favorable Balance of Performance adjustment. The concern has largely centered on the Prototype polesitting Cadillac and the GT Daytona polesitting Ferrari 488 GT3.
Scott Atherton, IMSA President, noted the challenge in keeping such a diverse number of manufacturers happy.
“The competition side of our equation is that not everyone will be fully satisfied and BoP is what we operate in,” Atherton told reporters in the media center during a press conference. “If everyone’s a little upset… that is real success.”
Friday is an interesting day on Rolex 24 race week. The reasoning is that there’s only one practice session for one hour in the morning, but still a flurry of activity for the drivers and crews on the final day of preparation.
Driver change practice is usually the most common thing you witness when you walk up and down the garages. One of the challenges at this year’s Rolex 24 is that the cockpit area of the cars are smaller than in previous years, and that intensifies the importance of getting drivers in and out at a quick rate.
Generally speaking, you try to roll all your “full service” items into one pit stop, when you change drivers, tires and add fuel at once. Continental Tire, which provides tires for all P, PC and GTD cars (so 44 of the 55 cars), posted this set of allocations for the week in its pre-race release:
- P teams will be allotted 36 sets of tires (including dry and wet tires), PC 26 sets, and GTD teams will receive 28 sets. This is the same as 2016.
- 8,000+ – Number of tires brought to the track (dry and wet) for both series. This is about four times more than any other race weekend.
Then when drivers aren’t in the garage, they’re rolling through the media center’s press conference room for media availabilities. Some of these availabilities draw more attention than others and with NASCAR star Jeff Gordon competing for the Wayne Taylor Racing team in its No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, he draws a crowd… much to Jordan Taylor’s chagrin.
Throughout the day Nissan, Ford, Mercedes-AMG, Chevrolet, Cadillac, BMW, Porsche, Acura, Lamborghini and Ferrari all sent drivers through the media availabilities.
So, about those INDYCAR drivers running here. As of fourth and final practice, here’s how many laps each of the eight full-time drivers confirmed for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season had run with their best time, via IMSA’s timing & scoring:
- Spencer Pigot, No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, 1:41.462, 23 laps (Practice 3)
- James Hinchcliffe, No. 70 Mazda, 1:41.730, 12 (P3)
- Sebastien Bourdais, No. 66 Ford GT, 1:43.598, 20 (P4)
- Scott Dixon, No. 67 Ford, 1:44.457, 22 (P4)
- Tony Kanaan, No. 69 Ford, 1:44.572, 17 (P3)
- Graham Rahal, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3, 1:49.452, 11 (P3)
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 86 Acura, 1:49.697, 8 (P3)
- Conor Daly, No. 88 Oreca FLM09, 1:43.917, 28 (P4)
So as you’ll notice, it’s hard for anyone to get too much running with limited track time and with three, four or five drivers to cycle through the stints in a session. And that’s if everything goes according to plan, with the numbers even less if your car spends any time in a garage area. Teams usually opt to give their full-time drivers more seat time to dial in a baseline setup and then that makes it easier for the drivers who don’t race sports cars regularly to adapt; generally speaking, open-wheel drivers adapt to sports cars pretty well.
Hinchcliffe wasn’t even at Daytona all day today, with a quick trip to New Orleans on a pre-scheduled assignment.
Ducked out of Daytona to hit an appearance in New Orleans! Still got some practice laps in. pic.twitter.com/xBw1DApOs3
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) January 27, 2017
In more INDYCAR notes, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Dale Coyne Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing tested earlier this week at Sebring.
TSO has learned RLL had a solid one-day test, making some good swings at setup in a productive day of running. Coyne was busy with Ed Jones getting acclimated to his first two days in the car in a row, a key step for the Indy Lights champion and Dubai-based Brit. Jones now has his own IndyCar seat, as opposed to having used his Indy Lights seat in his RLL tests over 2015 and 2016. Daly had a productive two days of running alongside Carlos Munoz, in Foyt’s first days with the Chevrolet powerplant and a number of new crew members.
Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels won today’s four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, driving a Porsche Cayman GT4. The Bodymotion Racing pair of drivers beat the two CJ Wilson Racing Porsches, with Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer second and Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner third.
MINI scored its first win with LAP Motorsports, the Luis Perocarpi-owned team, in the ST class. Mat Pombo and Derek Jones scored the win in the MINI JCW, just shy of the car’s two-year anniversary going on from its debut in Sebring in 2015.
We’ll be back with more pre-race information tomorrow morning before the race start, which is at 2:30 p.m. ET. In the meantime, thanks for reading and here’s a note below.
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