Monday, December 30, 2013

DTM in America??? Full House at Rolex 24, Full House at Sebring??? More Changes Coming!

 I hope most of you reading this thing are staying on top of things. I am trying to develop a regular schedule of posting and the format for the podcast.

 My series of how we fix racing in America will also continue into 2014 as we have less fragmentation but more confusion than ever????

 As a regular follower of racing since my childhood and hardy supporter of the ALMS since it started in late 1998, I can say that having one united series is a good thing, but watching how the sausage was made much how Government law is hashed out in real-time was a bit messy.

 2014 Dakar featuring Robby Gordon

 That said I am excited for 2014 to get started and it kicks off with the Dakar (in South America) Rally. If you didn't know Robby Gordon will be there, not with his Hummer (they have been sold) but with a new car based around one of the chassis he developed Short Course series. The rumor is this new SUV is based on a production SUV Robby will debut sometime in the future.

 You can check out some pictures here, the car, chase trucks and equipment was shipped with the rest of the European teams equipment, cars, etc. So for the first time Robby will have his stuff through customs hopefully with less missing parts than in previous years. This is not the first time I've heard of shady customs in Latin America but I will talk about that another time.

 This narrower, shorter wheelbase car will be much better in the early stages of the rally which runs through river beds and access roads.

 Good Luck to Robby and BJ Baldwin.

 Tudor United Sports Car Championship

  IMSA has released its entry list for the official test session for the Rolex 24 @ Daytona. This list is pretty much has the cars, teams and driver line ups not only for this race but the entire season.

 As I have said in previous post, the premium of drivers will be key to any success next season, especially in the Pro Am classes of LMPC and GT-D. GT-D as expected is oversubscribed and some teams will be turned away, even at Daytona. The Roar list has 65 entries on it (was 67) and there is (to my knowledge) only 60 spaces at Daytona, so some GT-D entries will either have to qualify to get in or won't be invited.

 Some might view that as a bad thing. I think its good, it will ensure a quality field for the race. It will be interesting to see how IMSA handles this and the PR problems it might create with the fanbase.

 While the Rolex Race might be fully subscribed, that may not be the case for the next race which is the Sebring 12 hours. Some teams focused more on their European activities will go back to Europe. That said, some teams have setup US operations, so it will be interesting to see who stays and runs the entire schedule, which is likely if they end up being highly placed in the championship after the first two races which should be double points.

 DTM in America, again????

 One would think with a merged championship, not even a complete rules package there is crazy talk about a United States version of the Pan European DTM series.

 I have nothing to say really, this subject doesn't really deserve a blog post, so tell you what, I will just let The Racing Insiders hash this out for you, ugh.

 Not sure I will be posting again before the end of the year as I am finalizing the transfer over to Wordpress for this blog and submitting content to All these changes come with a new look and a new host. The URL will be the same but the logo at the bottom of the screen will disapear.

 I will also be adding some new content not normally featured on automotive websites but its related to racing and cars in general.

 Finally I may turn this thing into a forum/blog hybrid because to really discuss the problems that threaten racing long term really need a better platform so we can share our ideas in a threaded format so its easy to keep track of.

 Until then Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What will really happen when the two combined car in Prototype race together for the first time, I think I have an idea...

When it was first announced and later confirmed Daytona Prototypes would be upgraded to match the pace of the ACO spec P2 cars, I knew right away that a P2 car will be the one to have and here's why.

  1.  Scott Pruett in an interview with Gordon Kirby on his website confirmed what I think will happen. The upgrades to the Daytona Prototypes means these cars will enter uncharted waters with unknown impacts on reliability. With limited testing time between when the new aerodynamic parts (tunnel + rear diffuser) being delivered and all the upgrades being added to the cars (paddle shift, carbon brakes, different dampers and spring rates to deal with the added downforce, etc) means many teams will suffer at Daytona with balance problems and parts failure.
  2.  The P2 cars are fully sorted. The only changes are the mandated aero package for Daytona, Sebring and IMS which reduces overall downforce to match it closer to the DP with the changes. While teams may appear to lose a performance advantage will be able to gain some of that back. Under ACO rules, as long as a car manufacturer releases new body kit at the start of the season, updates are allowed once per season. For HPD teams, that means Wirth Engineering will go back to its computers and try to recover some of that lost downforce. Because the drivelines are pretty much bulletproof, I don't expect many failures even if these cars have never run on the Daytona banked oval before.

  By the time the checkered flag drops on the new era Rolex 24, I think you'll find a P2 in the winners circle, barring anything like accidents of course. Besides Daytona, the only other place where P2 cars have no data is IMS (Indy). If they a P2 car can finish on the podium at Daytona, again at Sebring and again at Petit; it doesn't even have to worry about finishing on the podium at IMS, the North American Endurance Title would be a P2 victory.

 This is with the on-going BoP (Balance of Adjustment) that's going to be made throughout the season. It will be a cat and mouse game, this is where having professional drivers will be important. Wirth Engineering has a simulator located at their design studio where once some data is available from this months BoP test at Daytona where Extremespeed will be attending, they will be able to upload the track data, put a driver in it say Guy Cosmo who has tons of tire testing under his belt and come up with a predictive lap time they could run to win the race with more consistent driving, better pit stops and better fuel economy than outright speed since the extra power DP's have automatically means less mileage.

 In other words the HPD's won't have to dominate qualifying or the race to win it.

 I expect by Long Beach; the first sprint race of the season, DP teams will screaming for competition adjustments. Again with tons of on-track data at Long Beach despite those adjustments I think a P2 car will win again.

 By mid-season however DP's might go on a bit of a streak at places such as Mosport and Road America where handling and horsepower are important. But again at Road America fuel mileage because of the track length and uphill front straight will come into play and could be another P2 victory.

 I think its safe to assume that a P2 will end up dominating the first season of the new series and it will be interesting to see what the deeper pocketed teams do either at the end of the year or mid-season. Both Starworks and Ganassi made engine switches just beyond the midpoint in the season last year. Its totally possible that a team like Ganassi might park his converted DP's in favor of a P2 car of some description, especially if they are in the championship hunt and need to be on equal footing with the P2 cars. They are one of the few teams with very deep pockets and might willing to make the move.

 All this does is make for an exciting and interesting season from the sharp end of the grid to the blunt end.

 I made this post originally before the testing accidents with the upgraded DP cars. Since that point however potential P2 teams like Greaves and Pecom have dropped their plans to run the Tudor Championship.

 However my original thought still stands by Petit Le Mans, I predict all Extreme speed will have to do is start the race and they'll win the title. This will be after a season of fist waving, sh*t talk and BoP.

 If anything it will be interesting won't it?

Season Entries Released: Its about as expected

 I've been tracking this since before the season ended for both Grand Am and the American Le Mans Series.

 The only surprise thus far is that Dane Cameron doesn't have a ride yet considering his performance last season.

 Andy Priaulx will be exiting DTM (as predicted by me) to join the Team BMW RLL squad while Maxime Martin (winner at Long Beach with Bill Auberlen) will move into Andy's DTM seat effectively. It's likely we'll see Maxime when schedules don't clash with with DTM because Joey Hand, who I think should be focusing just on DTM will be back as a part-time partner to Dirk Muller who just missed out on the driver's title last year. When schedules do clash, expect to see John Edwards. 

 Dirk Werner was also reassigned and it looks like he'll be on VLN duty the majority of the year but also suspect he might be doing ADAC GT, Blancpain and the Spa 24, if not the Dubai 24 and 12 hours of Bathurst.

 And that folks is just the movement within BMW! 

 I expect Porsche's drivers for both its WEC and Tudor USCC be to announced before or just after Christmas. For Tudor I wouldn't be shocked if you saw the return of familiar faces to driving the factory Porsche cars. I expect Pat Long for sure, but with Marc Lieb looking like he's going to get a shot at driving one of the Porsche LMP1 cars, that leaves a seat open, stay tuned or that.

 But I think you can pencil in a few people besides Long. Hint: Anybody with more than a full season of starts in the ALMS.

 Speaking of Porsche that is one program whose resources are being stretched to the limit. Only four official Jr drivers was recently announced, that leaves two LMP seats open, six GTLM seats open and of course any 12 GT-D Porsches entered into the series.

 This is why I think if you don't have an experienced Porsche shoe in your GT-D car (one of the reasons Potter tied up Andy Lally early) they are going to struggle for pace and will be looking high and low for experienced drivers, even if its only in the regional Porsche Cup series...

 Ferrari drivers will also be busy, as Risi will be running two cars, one the entire season (no surprise) and one with Tracy Krohn. I don't think Tracy will be driving, this is why he's recently tested an LMP2 car for WEC and I believe he'll be trying a PC car sometime soon. So who does that leave? 

 Given Olivier Beretta's struggles last season, possibly be responsible for throwing away a victory at the final Petit Le Mans for the ALMS (while in the lead) and Risi's low tolerance for mistakes (see Jaime Melo) I think Matteo Malucelli will have new teammate. I wouldn't be shocked if Robin Liddell was given the nod. For never have driven a Ferrari before, he led the race in trickey wet-dry conditions during the early stages of Petit Le Mans. As it started drying out, he was near the pace of Malucelli. Malucellli is really fast behind wheel of one of these cars and just as fast as Melo was when his confidence was at its highest (2006-2008) which puts him on par with Ferrari pilot par excellence Gimmi Bruni. 

 I have no idea how they shuffle the deck here. I think Fisichelli will be reassigned as he struggled in the middle of the season (WEC) for pace and was able to only complete single tire stints in the car several times. That is the reason why AF Corse to protect their point lead not only in the team and manufacturer standings but also the driver's title; split up Bruni/Fisichelli and paired Bruni with long time teammate Toni Vilander (former FIA GT2 Champs). 

 So with Malucelli needing a teammate and Bruni needing a teammate, who knows what will happen but I know one person that's in the mix and that's former GP2 driver Davide Rigon. Rigon helped 8Star win the GT-Am Team's title and lead the Blancpain series the majority of the season with Cesar Ramos and Daniel Zampieri even after an engine failure while battling eventually winner of the Spa 24. With a slim point lead going in the final race, a practice crash put them on the backfoot and basically they were uncompetitive all day, a shame. 

 But Rigon has gotten the call up and I doubt will be back with Kessel next season. Last time Risi had two young hot shoes it was Melo and Bruni and yes they were fast (On Pole five times) but only had three victories and DNF'ed I think four times. Melo was penalized a few times for aggressive driving and the straw that broke the camel's back was crashing the car in practice in 2011 in morning warm-up for 2011 Petit Le Mans. The car was so badly damage that it couldn't be repaired in time (ala Allan McNish) to make the race, rumor has it Melo was fired on the spot and left the racetrack before the race started.

 We haven't seen him since, his website is hardly updated regularly but I last heard he was back in Brazil driving in the Brazilian GT3 Championship.

 I don't know if Giuseppe Risi is ready for another possible roller coaster season. Thus far Rigon and Malucelli have been very safe with the car while being fast, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it will be Malucelli, Davide Rigon and Robin Liddell for the longer races.

 I've got quite a bit more to say about the possible driver lineups in light of the season entry list being announced, so stay tuned.

Recent Comments