Discussions following last weekend’s rain-soaked IMSA season finale at Road Atlanta could lead to tire changes when the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns in January.
RACER has learned IMSA met with some of its partners following the rain-shortened event to discuss the possibility of developing a new Continental rain tire for use in 2016, and according to one team owner who asked to have his name withheld, an updated design could be ready prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“The current rain tire, which Continental was tasked with building one solution for two types of distinct cars, GTs and prototypes, was pushed to its limits and probably beyond its limits in dealing with all of the water at Petit Le Mans,” he said. “They are ready to go with a new rain tire and I think that will be huge the next time we have this kind of situation. Everybody is on board with the idea.”
Reached for comment on Friday, an IMSA spokesperson told RACER: “We are conducting our annual review of the current Sporting and Technical Regulations. We have made no decisions at this time.”
History was made at Petit Le Mans when a Michelin-shod Porsche 911 RSR from the slower GT Le Mans category passed the leading Continental-shod Corvette Daytona Prototype for first place and went on to score the overall victory.
In the driving rain, the production-based GTLM cars – which do not use the spec Continental tire mandated in Prototype, PC, or GT Daytona – were able to hound and pass Prototype drivers, but during periods where lighter rainfall was experienced, Prototypes held an advantage.
In the limited dry running during the event, the gap between top Prototype and GTLM cars on slicks was close to five seconds per lap. With a rain tire more suited to harsher conditions, another overall win by a GT car would be unlikely.
The high volume of spins and crashes on cold tires at Road Atlanta has prompted another possible change for 2016.
“I think we might also have tire warmers included in the rules package for next year,” the team owner added. “It’s something that will really help the [Pro-Am] drivers at night at the Rolex , in the rain, you name it. We had a lot of accidents with PC cars – a lot of cars in general. And even some of the pro guys struggled on cold tires. If tire warmers help the [Pro-Am] guys to be more comfortable and keeps more cars out of the walls, it’s going to end up being a cost savings to buy them.”