The Gary Nelson-led Action Express Racing team was the first of the 2014-spec Daytona Prototypes to turn laps today at Sebring, rolling out right as the 8 a.m. session began, and based on the feedback offered by driver Joao Barbosa, the new DP package is a success.
?From inside the car it felt great; I didn’t know what to expect, but I was quite impressed with how well the car drove first time out,? Barbosa told RACER. ?The front and the rear of the car felt very connected, and you can feel the extra downforce in the corners. It’s not exactly like a P2 car in cornering, but it’s a very good start.?
Posting a fastest lap of 1:53.26 during the morning session, the team bedded in the Corvette DP’s new carbon brake package before serious lapping could begin. The new dual element rear wing and large diffuser/tunnel addition at the back of the car required some aero balancing at the front, which was done through changing louvers over the front wheel arches.
Compared to the P2 pole time of 1:51.15 set by Level 5 Motorsports during the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, Barbosa, teammates Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais, AXR and chassis manufacturer Coyote will have some additional time to find, but for an initial 27-lap run with the 2014 package, most of the desired increase in DP performance has been demonstrated.
Although the early time set by Barbosa is just over two seconds off of the most recent P2 pole at Sebring, it compares favorably to the best lap of 1:57.0 set by Starworks Motorsports during private DP testing at Sebring, making for a 3.8-second improvement from the 2013 spec.
?We’re two seconds off where we wanted to be,? Nelson told RACER. ?We were looking for a six-percent improvement with the new DP configuration, and we’re at about four (percent) right now on the first day. We have a couple of percent to go.?
AXR’s Corvette DP encountered no issues Saturday morning, and also delivered immediate performance gains. If there’s a downside to the last point, it’s that engineer Iain Watt and the drivers have no glaring deficiencies to solve.
?You’d almost wish they had some complaints, but they don’t,? Nelson continued. ?It’s easier to find time when the drivers say it isn’t handling properly, but that isn’t the case so getting the extra time will take a lot of hard work.?
Barbosa was impressed with the ride quality of his Corvette DP, and also noted the extra low-end punch offered by the extra horsepower from his Chevy engine.
?The power’s really good and the car’s a lot of fun to drive ” it’s very nimble now,? he explained. ?We’re bottoming a little bit on the bumps, but the team did an amazing job putting everything together. I’m really impressed how well the car corners. The car was good through the faster corners, but the P2 cars are quicker, so we’re trying to match that.
?In a P2 car, it’s stiffer and harder over the bumps, but with this DP setup, we’re very good over the bumps. That’s an area we can work on. The two seconds we need will be hard to find right away, but I’m optimistic.?
The revised exhaust system on the Corvette DP, which now exits out of the sides rather than from behind the car, offers a throatier, less muffled sound, which adds to the overall impression of speed it delivers.
- The Marsh Racing team, which has its 2014-spec Corvette DP almost ready to run, is on steel brakes.
- Extreme Speed Motorsports should do limited running with its 2014-spec P2 car in the afternoon. Solving a communications issue kept the team grounded prior to lunch, and when they do emerge, drivers Ryan Dalziel and Ed Brown will sample Honda’s new drive-by-wire throttle system. Most of their running will be saved for Daytona on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they are carrying the additional 60 kilos of weight required by IMSA.
- IndyCar driver James Davison is piloting The Racer’s Group Aston Martin V12 Vantage GTD entry.
- Project Libra should be out in the afternoon, according to team owner Ian Dawson. Driver Robbie Kerr, who headed to Sebring after the recent Shanghai WEC round, is sick with food poisoning, but will shake down the Ford EcoBoost turbo-powered car.
- Audi has four of its R8’s on track today, with Flying Lizard (2) and a single car from Paul Miller Racing and Fall-Line Racing representing the brand.