Friday, November 1, 2013

What the Pirelli Tire World Challenge Series got right and up to this point USCC has got wrong with GT3 cars.

 Magnus Racing has taken delivery of the new Porsche 911 GT3 America (somewhere between a Cup car and the Supercup car) and is on the entry list for the Nov test that IMSA has planned in preparation for the premier season of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship.

 He'll be there with Scuderia Corsa will also be there with their Ferrari F458 GT3 "Grand Am" spec car. 

 It will be interesting to see who shows up with a pure FIA spec GT3 car, because IMSA (Scot Elkins) will need all three cars to gauge where and how to slow down the FIA cars because they are up at least 4 seconds a lap faster than the current Grand Am spec GT3 car. The other unknown is how much faster is the 911 America than last year's Grand Am/ALMS GTC Porsche GT3 Cup cars.

 From my understanding, I don't have all the specs, but the America has ABS which the Cup cars don't have (Porsche Supercup cars do) and possibly traction control? I am unsure but Elkins said a few months ago, they would allow FIA GT3 car into GTC with minor modifications. What those "minor" changes are nobody know and not many are even speculating. One rumor has it that traction control will have to be defeated on FIA spec cars but ABS will be allowed.

 This seem plausible because the traction control system is really just a wheel sensor and programmable routine in the car's computer that's connected to the ignition system. While ABS is much more involved and changes need to be made to the brake system itself to either add or defeat it. 

 I don't know if that will be acceptable to many teams that have ordered or have already bought 2012 FIA GT3 cars from Europe.

 This is causing quite a stir among the potential drivers in the GT-D class, like the outspoken Mike Hedlund, who got involved in a twitter discussion with fellow driver Ryan Eversley about allowing pure FIA GT3 car into the series.

 Why the America was built in the first place has likely the due with the fact that current GTC/Rolex GT teams already had to pay to upgrade their current cars, especially the Porsche Cups to ABS, TCS, Single Hub Wheels and other things. 

 There was talk of the FIA cars using a spec rear wing designed by Crawford Engineering in NC. The FIA GT3 cars have tremendous downforce, much more than the Grand Am spec and GTC spec cars. This would give them an advantage at many tracks in the new series, however the reduction in rear downforce on these cars has proven fruitless.

 Example, Fall-Line Motorsport, who took over the Audi R8 LMS program run by APR a well known VW/Audi tuner. They had so much trouble with rear grip that they decided to park the cars and revaulate what needed to be changed by continuing to run one car instead of two.

 When Grand Am wrote the rules to allow FIA GT3 cars in the series, they wanted to keep their current Rolex GT teams from having to upgrade their cars (sound familiar?). So they mandated some changes be made from the European spec already highly developed by the manufacturers who built the cars (either in-house or contracted out). This meant defeating the ABS system, Traction Control, removing the rear diffuser and running open side windows. 

 At first Audi's were forced to use the production V10 clutch assembly which cause both cars to drop out within the first two hours of the race with clutch failure. They had to lobby to use the Tilton racing clutch developed for the car originally. They struggled all that season the few times they appeared. That was 2011; in 2012, Audi showed up armed with lots of German being spoken in the paddock. Alex Job Racing who was contracted to run an Audi for the Audi Customer Sports Program out of Germany for this one race ended up winning his class. 

 It seems downforce was an issue but since Daytona is a high speed track where some downforce is given up for the infield section to get a higher trap speed from the chicane to NASCAR 4, through the Tri-Oval and past Start/Finish, it didn't prevent them from winning (and finishing 3rd) but reared its ugly head at the tracks were downforce was needed and the cars were uncompetitive. A minor cure was during some wind tunnel testing Audi engineers found that running without side windows for which the Europe spec calls for vented but closed side windows disrupted air going over the rear wing. They found changing the attack angle got back some of the downforce they were looking for. Results really didn't change the car was still too loose and burning up rear tires. Brad Kettler who runs Audi Customer Sports North America asked for the R8 LMS Ultra's rear diffuser to be allowed on the car. They allowed the to add it by the Laguna Seca race, one race from the final race of the season and of Grand Am. By Lime Rock they found it helped again, but didn't have enough track time to get the balance right and suffered a bit in overall pace.

  So let me get this straight, they demanded the car be slowed down and did it by removing rear downforce mainly, only to give them back the majority of their downforce later as it proved they were not competitive without it.

 This is why I was in favor of not allowing any Cup cars, the America or any Porsche but the Porsche 911 GT3-R which is the car Porsche teams run in European GT3 championships like ADAC, British GT and of course Blancpain.

 While IMSA tries to sort out this mess or potentially end up with a grid of majority Porsche Americas and maybe only the Fall Line Audis and few Ferraris (the count of Porches is already up to about 9-11 teams with a few running more than one) and a max of 21 cars allowed at the majority of races. World Challenge has announced they will be accepting full FIA spec Porsche 911 GT3-R's into their series.

 There is no team announcements that I know of but its likely you'll see an explosion of FIA GT3 cars now and I expect major factory involvement especially with the additional annoucement that Pro-Am drivers will be given their own podium ceremony and Sportsman Cup for winning the Pro-Am class within the current GT class.

 I expect heavy involvement from Audi who has previously won in World Challenge competition, Mercedes Benz who was involved with Black Swan racing last year, likely Ferrari, McLaren, SRT Viper and others.

 Accepting pure FIA cars is how IMSA went about this. But I guess the cost of adding all the additional hours to the series was just too much for GT-D teams to swallow. The America is $269,xxx that is over $200-$250K cheaper than a brand new FIA spec GT3 car from the majority of companies that offer them. The car isn't really the issue its the cost to run it and it is more expensive to run a FIA GT3 car, very similar to the GTLM (GTE) cars actually.

 While I understand the price issue, ALMS fans have asking for FIA GT3 cars be accepted into the series and that door was always left open by the ALMS all the way until the end.

 Now it seems we're going to get some watered down version again, just to appease a few legacy teams and Porsche who I am sure isn't hurt by the sales of these new cars as it looks like about 10 have been ordered/sold.

 That seems unfair to me.....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Recent Comments