Daytona testing closes with DP aero evaluations, improved tires and lap times

Daytona testing closes with DP aero evaluations, improved tires and lap times

IMSA

Daytona testing closes with DP aero evaluations, improved tires and lap times

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ESM car courtesy of the team. Ganassi, RSR PC courtesy of DIS.

Select TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype teams completed the second part of a two-day private test at Daytona International Speedway, working through aerodynamic, tire, weight and power alterations made to the Daytona Prototypes and P2 cars in attendance.

DP teams spent Tuesday running without the new-for-2014 diffuser attached, greatly reducing downforce at the rear of the cars, while also helping IMSA and tire supplier Continental gather data in that trim.

Riley-Ford EcoBoost entries from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Michael Shank Racing continued their testing programs on Wednesday with fresh 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ford V6s fitted, aiding the series and Continental by providing back-to-back comparisons with the high-downforce diffuser.

The best time set without a diffuser reportedly went to MSR, clocking an unofficial lap of 1:39.7, which was marginally faster than the 1:40.3 the team set during the November test at Daytona. It nearly matched the top November lap set by Action Express Racing’s Corvette DP of 1:39.6, which was set with the diffuser installed.

CGRwFS set the best time of the two-day test once it ran with the diffuser, posting an unofficial lap of 1:38.7, nearly a second faster than what AXR managed a few weeks ago.

“Things went extremely well; we had some issues getting going this morning, but it was on us, not the engine,” Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told RACER. “Once we got going, we ran all day, didn’t really stop, and worked through a few different aero settings. The first thing we did was to balance the car with the flat-bottom setup (minus the diffuser), and that didn’t take long. Then we put the diffuser on and had to re-balance the car.

“It was effective, it worked, and we had no tire issues as a result of having it and the extra downforce it produces on the car. And it makes a lot of downforce. The car was quicker with it on the car; we were in the 38s with the diffuser and in the high 39s without it. It was over a full second faster, and in the places you’d expect it to be faster. The tire company and the series were involved in everything we did.”

Ganassi driver Scott Dixon also made long runs on Continental’s new tires, and according to the manufacturer, it appears the P1111 model will go forward as the primary tire when teams return to race in January.

“We did some long runs on mostly full tanks, did full stint simulations on what we consider to be the downforce settings we’ll race under (minus the diffuser), and the tires held up great, we had no wear or heat issues there,” Hull continued. “We were able to do some long running on tires and came away with good information. With the things they’ve allowed us to modify aerodynamically, the car is very drivable and tunable. At least with this package, I think the [DP] cars are going to provide some great racing.”

Extreme Speed Motorsports joined the test on Wednesday with their HPD ARX-03b P2 car running in a different configuration than was seen at Daytona in November.

The twin-turbo Honda V6-powered prototype ran without the 60 kilos of ballast, weighing in at 900 kgs, and received a bump in horsepower with a five percent air restrictor break. The revised setup helped ESM to carve two seconds off of the 1:43.6 that was set last month, turning an unofficial best in the 1:41.5 range.

“Encouraging steps were taken,” ESM driver Ryan Dalziel told RACER. “The new Continental tire was a big step forward, including its performance, but obviously with its durability at the back of the car. Dropping the weight helped the car quite a bit and reduced the gap to the DPs by a good margin. We ran in the mid 41s, the DPs in what they think will be the Daytona aero spec were in the high 39s, so the gap is within two seconds, which is probably about where it will stay if nothing changes.”

Dalziel believes the P2s and DPs can be brought even closer with small adjustments for next month’s Roar Before The 24 test on Jan. 3-5.

“We can’t really add more power to the P2s than what we just did today, and I know IMSA’s changes to the DPs for 2014 were all done to speed them up to match the P2s, but I think they’re probably over-matched now,” he noted.

“We’re still six to eight miles an hour down on the straights, and IMSA says they want it more like two or three. I think if they pull back the extra power they gave the DPs for 2014, it should be closer on the straights and should help the lap times, too. We won’t be equal, but closer. Altogether, I think they now have the data they need to come up with the final spec for the P2s and DPs when we get to the Roar.”

Action Express Racing also turned laps on Wednesday after recovering from an oil fire that brought a premature end to their testing on Tuesday.

“The team did a great job getting the car back together, we tried some different things throughout the day and it was really good,” AXR driver Joao Barbosa told RACER. “We aren’t totally sure on the configuration they will ask us to race, but we prepared ourselves for whatever IMSA asks us to do. The tires were great; Continental worked very hard on the reliability and performance. We’re headed in a good direction.”

Mazda continued its progressive development plan for its SpeedSource-run P2 cars on Wednesday, reducing lap times by nearly three seconds to a low 1:46.

“We made big strides today,” Mazda motorsports manager John Doonan told RACER. “We made some changes inside the car and it was just what we were looking for at this stage of the P2 SkyActiv diesel’s development. Our drivers did a great job and really helped with Mazda’s efforts to methodically bring this program up to speed.”

RSR Racing ran its PC car on Wednesday, reportedly posting a best time in the low 1:43 range. Testing came to an early end, however, when one of its drivers suffered a crash in the infield, ripping the right front corner off of the car.

Rolex 24 at Daytona testing resumes next week when Chevy-powered teams take to the legendary track.

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