PC teams will have until the 12 Hours of Sebring in late March to incorporate Zylon anti-intrusion panels on each side of the driver compartment. The carbon-fiber ORECA FLM09 tubs, which were introduced stateside in 2009 and will continue through at least the 2016 season, will be raised to the same side impact material standards found in new LMP1 and LMP2 coupes. Costs for the updates could come in under $10,000 per chassis.
“I think it’s a great move,” Bar1 Motorsports team owner Brian Alder told RACER. “I applaud IMSA for continuing to make safety improvement, even if the car’s a bit older. I remember doing Zylon panels of our own with the Lolas in the ALMS years ago, and it needed to happen with these cars. We had a wishbone go through one of my driver’s legs at Baltimore in 2013 – that was Rusty Mitchell – so safety-wise, if it makes it safer for the drivers, and makes it safer for the tubs so we don’t have to replace them after a crash like that, I’m all for it. It’s expensive, but it’s money well spent.”
PR1/Mathiasen PC driver Andrew Palmer, who will make his prototype debut after racing in the relatively safe confines of a production-based Audi R8, echoed Alder’s sentiments.
“They already require the Zylon strip on our visors, which tells you how they view its importance, and I think it’s a good idea to look at any safety aspect for these cars, given that they’re about five years old,” he said. “That being said, I already feel safe stepping in from GT cars. That extra bit of safety makes you feel safer pushing to the limit, and it would have been nice to have the panels for Daytona because of the higher speeds and potential impacts, but knowing we’ll have them for Sebring is good.”
The Zylon chassis panel updates are just the latest changes to the PC class for 2015. As RACER chronicled in December, PC cars will be given more power, freedom in chassis setup, and revised power and torque curves.