Petit Le Mans pre-race notes

Image by LAT

Petit Le Mans pre-race notes


Petit Le Mans pre-race notes


Brake breaks for BMW

Team owner Will Turner reported that both front brake rotors exploded simultaneously during Friday’s qualifying, sending driver Robby Foley and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport Liqui Moly BMW M6 GT3 into the gravel.

“That’s never happened to us before – and we can’t come up with any reason why it happened,” Turner said.

Lead driver Bill Auberlen celebrates his 51st birthday today — and was on top of the chart for Saturday morning warm-up in the car he shares with Foley and Dillon Machavern.

“Bill’s pushing 60 but he still drives like somebody’s chasing him,” Tuner said. “He’s wiser, and he still has the bit between his teeth. Obviously, I think we’ve got the best line-up we can have here. We just have to put it all together and we’ll be fighting for a podium.”

Curran title-chasing, pondering future

Eric Curran may be winding down his career behind the wheel, but he’s still in the hunt for a title in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. While co-drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr are chasing the overall title, Curran joins the pair in running second in the Michelin Endurance Cup — only two points behind Wayne Taylor Racing.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time — 25 years — and it’s time to start thinking about other things,” said the 44-year old driver. “It’s been a great run, and I’ve had a great run with Sonny Whelen and the Action Express guys — two championships in the last three years. It would be nice to help the guys pull off another one this weekend.”

After running in only the four Endurance Cup races this season, Curran has not ruled out another attempt at the Rolex 24 next season, coming off a second-place finish in last year’s race.

“It’s been a good run for a long time, but I’ve got a lot going in the business and other things outside the racing world,” Curran said. “It’s fun to see this Whelen program continue after being part of it for so long.”

No soft opening for C8.R

Did Corvette Racing ever consider going with its tried-and-true Corvette C7.R for the 2020 season-opening enduros at Daytona and Sebring and save its competition debut of the Stingray C8.R at a different event?

Corvette C8.R

“This takes me back to 1998, when I was asked that same question — ‘Why would you debut a brand-new Corvette at a 24-hour race, instead of starting at a place like Portland,’” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. “At some point in time, you’ve got to go out and race the car. You learn a lot through testing, but in no way can it duplicate what you have on a racetrack with 50 or 60 cars running around out there. We’ve got a lot of confidence from what we’ve done in the past to know we’re as fully prepared as we can be, and we’re going to begin to write the book on this car, just like we’ve done on all the other chassis. We don’t have any high level of trepidation or concern about debuting it at a 24-hour race.”

Race fans will get their first on-track glimpse of the C8.R this morning at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, when it performs a ceremonial lap prior to the Motul Petit Le Mans.

Going greener

IMSA announced on Friday further expanded initiatives for its IMSA Green Racing program.

In the on-going effort to pursue Green Racing Protocols, these initiatives include the continuing expansion of the IMSA Green program. This includes increased involvement in the EPA SmartWay Program, discovery and implementation of solar energy within its paddocks and progress in the current move to electric and hybrid technologies in the mobility field.

The EPA recently bestowed a 2019 SmartWay Excellence Award on Michelin for outstanding environmental performance and leadership. IMSA’s “Official Tire Supplier” was one of 17 shipper and logistics companies — and the only tire company — to receive this distinction. The award is the EPA’s highest recognition and acknowledges the best environmental performers among SmartWay’s 3,700 partners.

IMSA boss Scott Atherton has long been an advocate of promoting a greener future through racing. Image by Michael Levitt/LAT

“These EPA SmartWay initiatives are an important component of the ever-evolving IMSA Green Racing Program,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “It is easy to see the monetary savings SmartWay provides and by adding in the reduction to our environmental footprint makes this something every team in our paddock should be exploring for their use.”

With the mobility landscape moving swiftly to electric and hybrid technology, IMSA has already announced the next generation of its top racing class — DPi 2022 — will have a hybrid powertrain. The sanctioning body also continues to explore the possible adoption of ETCR (fully electric TCR) and ePrototype platforms in the future.