Losing a team like Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates stings, but as the team’s former engine builder tells RACER, the Northern California-based BMW specialists won’t let that loss derail his Daytona Prototype engine program.
?Obviously, we’re disappointed, they’re a great team,? said Steve Dinan, whose engines won three DP titles with the CGRwFS outfit. ?The collaboration has been unprecedented, the number of wins we’ve had together, I think for both them and for us, has been remarkable. It’s one of those kind of things when we got together it just gelled. We have like minds of how things should be done. Oftentimes, you’re going to a team and you try to convince them what to do different. But with those guys, by our second race together, you’d think we’d been together for 10 years. It was really special, so, for sure, we’re really going to miss that because they were really great.
?The good thing is, they didn’t leave for performance reasons; I think they were really happy with our BMW product. I think they just got a better business offer from Ford. I think it’s the motivation of the change and I think, I don’t know all the ins and outs of the sponsorship and the car companies, it’s not really my business, but I’m under the impression that Ford tendered a better deal than I think BMW did. Regardless, we have other teams that are winners or ready to start winning with our engine and that’s where we’ve had our heads focused.?
Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsports team switched to Dinan-prepared BMWs for the Indianapolis round in August, and promptly won their first race of the season using Dinan’s new 4.5-liter BMW V8. The team followed that performance with a breakthrough win for Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer in the second Starworks DP at Road America. Ganassi added two more wins, bringing Dinan’s tally to four in 2013.
The emerging Team Sahlen Racing program became a threat in the latter stages of the 2013 Rolex Series season with Dinan’s BMWs, and Starworks, which is currently evaluating its choice of cars for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Prototype class, could also return to the Dinan fold.
?We have two other teams, Starworks and Sahlen, and both did a great job last season,? Dinan continued. ?Starworks won last year including the Brickyard, Sahlen was on the pole at Road America, and could have won that race, so I think we’ve shown that more than just Ganassi has been able to have success with our BMWs. I think we’ll continue to be competitive in the series. And we’ll, of course, look for another team to replace them with down the road. Unfortunately, by the time they made their decision, everybody signed their contracts for next year so the options were kind of limited for us to find another team.
?So, we’re just going to stay in the series and see how the transition goes with the merger of ALMS and Grand Am because we don’t even really know if the DP car or the P2 car is going to win and be the best car. And by the end of the year I think that will come to light and then we can decide if we are going to be making P2 motors instead of DP motors, as that might be the direction we’re going.?
Many Prototype teams have expressed a concern over which type of car will prove to be the hot ticket in the TUDOR Championship. As a result, Dinan could have a BMW solution to offer P2 and DP teams, depending on what proves to be the most successful option.
?Yeah, we’re doing analysis right now on a P2 effort with the new P65 motor,? he explained. ?So we are looking into that very seriously, thinking there’s definitely some customers there for us. We are continuing with both the older 5.0-liter V8 engine, and the 4.5-liter, which is now 4.7 liters. We’ve developed both of those already to the new increased power level. So we’re going to have two different engine offerings for the DP car and then we’re going to start, by the time the season starts, we’ll already be working on a P2 engine in case by the middle of the year if that’s the direction everybody is headed, we’ll be ready.
?So right now we have three motor programs going on at once! Plus the 228 four-cylinder turbo for the Continental ST and the new M3 motor with the twin turbo six-cylinder for GS?we’re working on both of those as well. So, certainly, the amount of work we have hasn’t diminished. If anything, it’s gone up.?
Converting Dinan’s DP engine into a P2 motor would be relatively easy, and would give the company a product that could be used in the TUDOR Championship and in Europe where multiple manufacturers vie for P2 honors in the WEC and ELMS.
?Well, our logic is I the Nissan is the most successful P2 motor in Europe, it’s a 4.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and that’s what ours would be,? he said. ?The new motor we debuted at Indy was the 4.5-liter P65 M3 motor, so that would be a fairly simple thing to do. It’s basically altering the compression ratio, cam timing changes basically and cam profile changes. The bottom end remains unchanged and so does the cylinder head. So it wouldn’t be a big leap for us to make that into a P2 motor.
?And again, also you just don’t know what the sanctioning body is going to do. Really, honestly, it’s the reason we’re all hedging our bets with building both at once. So chances are about a third of the way through the season, halfway at the most, we’re all going to know what really is the better one and we’re all going to see what the sanctioning body actually does about it. Either way, we’ll be ready with options for those who are interested.?