IMSA’s technical department had an interesting challenge on its hands with developing the Balance of Performance tables for this weekend’s WeatherTech 240 race at Daytona International Speedway.
Ten years have passed since sports cars raced at DIS on the Fourth of July weekend, and in that last instance, it was a fundamentally different formula and series in action with the defunct Grand-Am Rolex Series. The absence of recent summer technical data at Daytona, coupled with a narrow 2h40m window for the evening race – far different than the long, cool 24-hour IMSA event held in January – gave Geoff Carter and his team a new BoP puzzle to solve.
“It’s an interesting opportunity for us to go back there,” IMSA’s senior director of technical regulations and compliance told RACER. “When we finished the Rolex 24 in January, the number one job Monday morning back in the office was the technical committee and the technical department, go back and correct the BoP if needed, based on the data as if we were going back there tomorrow. And that was five months ago now.
“Because we wanted to get that done, so when we went off to race the rest of the year, all of the nuances weren’t lost on us based on the events that go on through the rest of the year. So we went back, we met, we corrected it. We basically had a tentative BoP in the folder waiting as a starting point for the off-season next year, going back to Daytona. When we had the unique opportunity to go back now in July, we pulled that data out and started from there.”
Trying to nail the right BoP setting for each car during a narrow sliver of time at Daytona, and on a different Michelin tire than the ones used across the different WeatherTech Championship classes at the Rolex 24, is where Carter’s group placed its focus.
“There were a few considerations that we couldn’t really quantify such as we’re in a short race, it’s in the middle of the summer, and it’s on tires that are different,” he said. “And so all of those things, and the obvious potential for rain that year, which we’d fully expect pop-up showers around here, during this time of year, makes it hard to take what we had after the 24-hour race and apply it directly. Having said all of that, we just went back and stayed with our process of analyzing the timing and scoring, looking at the logged car data that we are now able to process 124 gigabytes coming out of the Rolex 24, and to cross-check both of those with the scrutineering data, what the cars looked like, what configurations they were in.
“We basically went back and used those three legs of the bar stool to correct the BoP as we saw it, for this unique two-hour and forty-minute, July 4th race. In talking to Michelin, we were interested in what the different tires were like with the harder tires for DPi and in GTD. And as long as the tires are working within the intended heat range, we expect equivalent performance across the board. In GTLM, they have three heat ranges anyway, so they will come back with the same tire, whether they run mediums, or ‘hots’ as they call them it’ll be up to them. Nobody actually did that, run the hots at Daytona in the Rolex. So we had a chance to develop those metrics, the automated programs that we run to process those metrics, went back and paired that back with where the BoP was when we finished the Rolex to come up with what we have for this race.”
With the better part of five months spent away from the race track, IMSA’s technical department used the downtime to further refine the software tools it uses to balance the performance between the various models in DPi, GTLM, and GTD. Carter is confident the outcome fans and teams will find at the WeatherTech 240 is closely-matched competition.
“I was really proud of our technical department here; our guys really did a yeoman’s effort working on weekends and late at night throughout the shutdown, and they were really excited to finally have the time to go down a road we’ve been trying to go down for three or four years with this data,” he said. “And in a partnership with Bosch, we came up with some cloud processing mechanisms and we can process after. So that 124 gigabytes of data coming off the cars, we can process that in about 12 hours with Bosch. And once that comes processed from Bosch, we can process the metrics in over 100 sensor channels in about 45 seconds for the entire field.
“I’ve said it to the manufacturers, after seeing what we’ve implemented for this event’s BoP and the round of calls with the manufacturers in all three classes, that at some point this data metric program may perhaps obsolete the timing and scoring metrics that we currently use. So trying to integrate these in a successful way we think that it will, we really believe that the racing will get better than it has been in the past, and byproduct of better racing is less conflict about BoP, whether it’s internal with manufacturers, teams, fans, anybody, we really hope to reduce the conflict of BoP through better racing. And I think the finer resolution that we have now, with these process data metrics, really are pushing us in that direction.”