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JHS18

Sports Car Racing Thread

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Tomorrow at 10 AM GMT -5, the live press conference will stream on grand-am.com and nascar.com.

I'll be in class. Damn.

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This article says:

  • DP as the top class.
  • LMP2 as a supporting class to DP (LMP2s are significantly faster than DPs, so that sounds like they will need big-time restriction).
  • GTE as the lead GT class (again, they'd need to be cut back a bit to be significantly behind DPs).
  • Grand-Am's GT merged with ALMS GTC to make a "GT3" class (not real GT3, of course...tube-frame chassis with silhouette bodies).
  • LMP1 eliminated.
  • Scott Atherton in charge.
  • Le Mans connection ended.

http://www.nationalspeedsportnews.com/road-racing/merger-nears-for-alms-grand-am/

I'm not sure I'd believe all of that. I can't see how LMP2 could be made to be slower than DP but...I guess that's the plan. I also can't see how the manufacturers in GT would go for a series with no ties to Le Mans.

Whatever the case, you can watch at stream.speedtv.com/breaking-news tomorrow at 10:00 AM GMT -5.

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Someone confirmed the classes for 2014.

Then retracted.

Then someone else confirmed the same classes for 2014.

Then someone else said it's still up in the air.

Well.

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NSX will race. In what, we don't know. But in something.

http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/sportscar-acura-nsx-in-works-for-gt/

This is my understanding of the new classes for 2014:

1. DP/LMP2 combined. DPs will be sped up. P2s will be slowed down. This sounds temporary.

2. A form of ALMS GT.

3. A form of GT3. Grand-Am tube-frame GTs, ALMS GTCs, and potentially other GT3s allowed.

No more Le Mans link/invites for now.

It is speculated that in 2015, the top class will be an all-new prototype. In 2015, the ACO will also be implementing all-new LMP2 rules. It's been said that the ACO may work with the American series to develop the 2015 LMP2 rules together, to use that in both series, and bring back a Le Mans connection. That's still far off. There was slated to be both a new LMP2 and a new DP in 2015, though, so one wonders if they will be the same thing.

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Still seems like a bit of a mess.

Reminds me kinda like when you see historic racing, and they put all different engine types etc together on one grid that would normally never have raced together back in the day...

Still, it is still way early to say whether it'll work or not. One thing that the DPs do have going for them is the improvement in looks for this year - that's certainly an improvement from what they used to be like. It'd be a shame to lose LMP1 cars, but then again you'd only be losing three cars as that interview you posted said, so on the grand scale of things, that wouldn't be a huge loss.

On the other hand, it would be a shame to lose the ACO connection though. Le Mans has become the success it is in the last few years thanks to the regional championships like LMS (before it was ILMC and ELMS) and ALMS. Take those away and you understandably lose some on the quality teams from the grid. Le Mans should be about the very best sports car teams in the world, not just from Europe, competing, and it'll be a shame if that changes. But we'll see.

I did read on another forum (and you probably know which one it is without me saying it) that the was speculation that the old American DTM idea could easily fit into the equation. DTM cars are quicker than GTE cars anyway, and if NASCAR were still keen to try and push that through, then surely this would be the best way to do that. Then again, it'd be hard to work out how that'd work. It is understandable they'd want Grand Am to be the top and therefore fastest class. I'm not sure off the top of my head what the relative difference in performance a DP would have to a DTM car, but at a guess, I'd think that the DTM cars would be a little bit quicker, so that'd be problematic.

Edited by JHS18

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Grand-Am have abandoned all plans to bring DTM to the U.S.

I think the classes make it seem like a spec tire will be used. The Continental Tires in Grand-Am are very conservative and hard in compound to avoid wear and failure. Using these tires would slow the LMP2s down a lot (to make it easier to balance them with DPs) and would slow the LMGTE cars down enough to not challenge the top class.

Obviously, a spec tire opens up a lot of problems. Team and fan reaction seems really, really mixed so far.

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That'd be a shame. Exciting tyres are another part of what makes racing so exciting. Some tyres work when it is hot. Other work better when it is colder. Some have an advantage when it rains. Some cars manage to look after their tyres better than others. Some cars can get great lap times out of tyres in qualifying.

Taking that away and having a generi-tyre would suck a lot. Pirelli have proved that even a single tyre supplier can help produce exciting racing with no risk to safety.

I wouldn't be totally surprised to learn that rain tyres have stopped being produced and that they'll refuse to race whenever there's so much as a bit of moisture in the air. ;)

I'm still struggling to get my head around it all if I'm honest. Why does NASCAR need to beat every other championship in America to death to the point they've got almost a complete monopoly? It's frustrating. Why can't they just go away and stick to what they know best, which is really not an awful lot? :P But then again, it is not like it has never happened over here either. FIA killed off Group C when it was getting to the point it was rivaling F1 too much in terms of manufacturer and fan interest.

In a cruel way, and saying this with no disrespect intended to any of the teams, I wish them the best of luck...but, I kinda hope this fails miserably just to see what the people within NASCAR's reaction would be. Saying that, if the worst did come to the worst, I doubt they'd give a damn an awful lot given that it'd have no impact on NASCAR in any shape or form at all.

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The art of talking whilst not saying an awful lot:

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/102250

"In our situation were are not thinking about an LMP1 class," he explained. "We are thinking about prototypes, advanced prototypes."

I laughed.

"We are American based and this series we are putting together is an American sportscar series and we need to take care of our own market."

Sounds worrying. Although...

"I would like to say that it was an important part of our discussion, at Jim's insistence, that our relationship with Le Mans continues," he said. "I believe that Le Mans is supportive; the new [ACO] president Pierre Fillon has told me that. We will find a way so some of our teams can qualify for Le Mans."

Intriguing.

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First interesting point that Midweek Motorsport bring up is the possibility that WEC and this new series could work together in an instance that the WEC could have a round at Petit Le Mans, and the new unified series would be a support race.

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They're talking to Graham Goodwin of DSC by the way. They say that ACO and the new unified series probably won't collaborate when writing 2015-2016 LMP2 regs.

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Pointing out the obvious tyre issues, saying that will be one of the serious stumbling blocks they have to get through.

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Would recommend listening to this show as a podcast when you've got the time, they've also been talking with Marshall Pruett and Scott Atherton who are saying some interesting things.

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I'll say it again: try and listen to this show as a podcast if you can - it should be available soon. Two hours long, but most the show dedicated to the ALMS/Grand-Am merge.

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Well, I hope the 2013 American Le Mans Series season has a lot to offer. I obviously worry that no one will see the incentive in showing up with an LMP1, at the very least. Just give me one last good season, no lame-duck crap, no NASCAR officiating controversy, just the American Le Mans Series. And have Lime Rock on the calendar. Now I must go. I can't pass up the last chance I'll get to see LMP1s in what would likely be my lifetime.

I said I'd comment once and move on, so I'll comment once and move on. I just can't get into this so I'll let it go. I wish all the guys I know and all their peers really well. Some great people made this sport and I don't want them to be forgotten. NASCAR, take care of those people.

And thank you to a lot of people who will never read this for making the ALMS in the first place. I wish I had discovered it earlier, but I guess now I have time to watch every race I've missed on YouTube. It was a bold move for Panoz to do this, it was bold for the ACO to allow that first Petit Le Mans to happen, but it was a lot of fun. I'm sad it couldn't work for so many reasons that will be endlessly rehashed, so I'll refrain from it. But I'm really glad there was an American Le Mans Series and I look forward to seeing some familiar cars on WEC spotter guides in 2014.

Great, great series. I look forward to VIR and Petit Le Mans this year, and the ten rounds of 2013. Definitely America's best auto racing offering of my lifetime so far, in my personal opinion. It had passion. And not everything does so they had that nailed, a car racing series all about, well, cars.

When the news first broke, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. It made me realize how much more I care about ALMS, and racing, then I expected to, or then I probably should.

I'm not upset, not angry, not frustrated, not disenchanted. Just done, and excited for one final year to enjoy these cars and teams and tracks and all that with my dad. Then moving on.

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I obviously worry that no one will see the incentive in showing up with an LMP1, at the very least.

That's another point they were making. Apparently several teams from both championships have said they have no idea what their plans for 2013 are, nevermind 2014. They don't know whether to stick with what they've got, to buy a new chassis, to take a year out and evaluate their possibilities...the lack of detail at this stage could really hurt both ALMS and Grand Am next year if they don't hurry up and declare what the classes will be and what will and will not be eligible.

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Team Falken Tire confirmed participation in the 2013 ALMS. One-car field for me to enjoy at least. :P

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A lot of teams have released statements. All the ALMS teams and drivers are calling for technology, efficiency, innovation, diverse competition, freer regulations, green initiatives, etc. Basically, the ALMS teams and drivers want the ALMS principles to continue. They sound worried.

Tim Pappas of Black Swan additionally expressed frustration. There will no longer be a GT-Am category in the 2013 ALMS, which screws up his plans. He is advocating for the new series to include a GT-Am category using FIA GT3 cars (and incorporating Grand-Am's current GT cars). It sounds like no Black Swan in 2013 now.

Ed Brown (Tequila Patrón, Extreme Speed Motorsports) tried to buy the assets. However, he would have had to have sold Road Atlanta as real estate to make his purchase of the ALMS and Sebring work, so he was ultimately denied.

Other comments from Pickett lashing out at DPs:

http://www.racer.com/pickett-im-not-going-dp-racing/article/257861/

Vicious rumor out now that the prototypes and GT cars in the new series will run in separate races outside of the big ones. Used to happen in the IMSA days.

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Watched the Pirelli World Challenge race from Sonoma this afternoon. It took place back in August as part of the IndyCar weekend, but wasn't televised until today. I've always wanted to watch World Challenge, but never remember to check when it's on, so I was able to catch the season finale and great to have it at Sonoma, which is one of my favorite tracks (the first five corners are just really awesome).

I really enjoyed it. Great battle for the GT win between Volvo's S60 and Cadillac's CTS-V. The S60 has all wheel drive, so it gets great launch at the start and off corners. The CTS-V (Pilgrim) was making huge gains on the leading S60 (Figge) under braking, erasing large margins to get right behind him in the final laps with the help of traffic. However, the Volvo's AWD gives it massive forward bite, so on corner exit the Volvo would blast off. That was enough for Figge and K-PAX Racing to take the win.

Very cool to see AWD in racing, I think, and to see the diversity of cars in this series. The more differences you have, the better the racing can be with the right formula. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to seeing more of these races next year, which stream live on the series website.

Also found it interesting that the series runs as a support series to IndyCar, and the races are produced by IMS Productions (Indianapolis Motor Speedway-owned). They're then aired on NBCSN, the channel that airs IndyCar. Sounds like there's a connection there.

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So, two races on Saturday. WEC at São Paulo, ALMS at Virginia. Two very, very nice tracks.

I hope to catch some of at least one. I'm finally busy for once, which is truly really nice, but also means a lot less racing.

Big development this weekend? Dyson closed the gap for the LMP1 title in Baltimore, and now their Lola/Mazda has flywheel KERS, making it a "hybrid." Of course, it's not a hybrid diesel or hybrid petrol like Audi and Toyota respectively, but rather a hybrid isobutanol car.

http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/alms-dyson-to-debut-flybrid-kers-hybrid-system-at-vir/

My favorite LMP1 just got cooler. :P

The Lola's weakness to the HPD is, of course, being nimble/quick through corners. I can't quite figure out how KERS will help that, given it probably adds weight and is best used on the fast sections, where the Dyson's turbo already dominates. Maybe they can use it on corner out before the turbo spools? I'm very clueless about the technical side of racing but I do hope this closes the gap. In practice, they were 1.63 seconds off Muscle Milk, so a long way to go.

Big thing from ALMS practice? The ESM Ferraris were fast fast fast. This is a more "European" track, so that could explain the Ferrari pace.

WEC? Toyota were fastest in FP2. Less than a second from first to third. It's only practice, but Toyota are definitely making statements.

In driver news, Adrián Fernández has left Aston Martin Racing and the FIA WEC. He will spend some time with his family before focusing on a full North American sports car program. It is unclear if he will be starting his own team up again (he previously ran an Acura LMP2 in ALMS, and owned an IndyCar team) but his plan is to be racing in 2013 in one of the two series. I hope it adds a car to the ALMS fold, and whatever car that is, it will definitely have Lowe's branding on it.

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Also. I know it's only practice but I just want to write an open letter to all the whiners who wanted diesel banned or thought Audi had an unfair advantage or that diesels needed to be heavily restricted:

That ain't sports car racing. Diesel isn't some heavenly fuel sent from the sweet great-grandmother of Juan Pablo Montoya to dominate road races. It's just that no petrol team was trying hard enough. Now Toyota have, they have great aerodynamics from what I understand, and what do you know, diesel isn't a ticket to victory, effort and innovation are! Tell me this, is it more fun to watch Toyota grow into a competitive entity that can take it to Audi on raw pace, or would it have been more fun to watch a heavy-handed ACO or FIA restrict the Audi down to the kid-sized levels of performance?

You know the answer. Yay for letting Audi be Audi, yay for Toyota challenging them.

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I remember recently Wurz said that he thought Toyota would struggle with the altitude at Interlagos, something to do with diesels being better than petrols at altitude, I don't know, I'm as clueless as you. :P

Cool to see them doing well in practice though. Once again, it seems they may have the pace over Audi, but if their fuel economy is as bad as it was at Silverstone, I'm not too hopeful they'll be able to pull of a win. They may come close though.

Should be an interesting one. Unfortunately, I'll have to miss both the ALMS and WEC this weekend as I'm off to Silverstone. But I'll try and catch up when I get back.

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