IMSA, Continental Explain Decision to Suspend Testing

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Testing for Daytona Prototypes, P2 and Prototype Challenge cars was suspended Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway on the grounds of safety, due to a number of tire-related incidents, two of which caused airborne accidents for newly upgraded DPs.

According to IMSA VP of Competition & Technical Regulations, Scot Elkins, the decision to ground all prototype machinery, except for the DeltaWing coupe, was a joint decision with partner Continental Tire, as they work to come to the bottom of the issue.

“We all made the decision together,” Elkins told Sportscar365. “The fact is that every [Prototype and Prototype Challenge) car is running the same tire. The fact that we don’t know what’s causing issues, whether it’s tire or car or whatever. We just don’t know.

“The right thing to do was to say that we’re not going to run today. Knowing all of those cars were on the same tire, that was the only decision we could come to.”

Both the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona and No. 5 Action Express Corvette DPs suffered right-rear tire failures and subsequent airborne accidents, with Richard Westbrook’s Coyote-chassied car destroyed following a series of rolls at the exit of the high-speed tri-oval section.

Tire issues were also reported for two other DPs, along with an isolated incident for the No. 05 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 PC car, although not resulting in any accidents. There were no reported problems for either of the P2 cars in attendance.

“Safety is our number one priority and I’m glad Richard Westbrook and Joao Barbosa are both okay,” said Travis Roffler, director for marketing for Continental Tire. “We are working with IMSA to uncover the source of the issue and subsequent solution.

“I know that, with the help of IMSA and all the teams, we will have a solution to the problem before we race. At this time, it’s too early to speculate as to what’s causing the issue so we are conducting a detailed analysis.”

A Continental tire spokesperson said the same tire construction, P1000, had been used on the high-banked oval/road course for the last two years but under a different nomenclature (DP-I), and that no developments for this tire have been made on this track.

The same tire was used on Conquest Racing’s Morgan-Nissan P2 car when it tested at Daytona late last year, with no issues as well.

“The fact of the matter is that both IMSA and Continental are confident we’re going to solve the issue,” Elkins said. “We’ve got the process going and I don’t think we have any concerns about the upcoming testing.

“We made the decision today because of the unknowns. We’ll answer the questions and move on.”

The other issue stemming from Tuesday is the nature of the accidents, as both Westbrook and Barbosa’s Corvette DPs took flight after being turned around.

Elkins said that is another area they are looking into, particularly with aero updates introduced to DPs for 2014. Four cars were running with the new diffuser, tunnels and dual element rear wing package issued by IMSA, which had yet to be evaluated in a full-scale wind tunnel until Monday.

“We don’t design these cars to go backwards,” Elkins said. “We got on the phone last night with all of the relevant aerodynamicists that have worked on the project from every aspect, from Ford to Pratt & Miller to Multimatic. We’ve got everybody on the horn and we’re looking through it and seeing where we’re going.

“It is an unintended consequence but I think anything that goes backwards at 180 mph has the potential for doing that. We don’t necessarily know that the diffuser is what caused that but we’re going through and doing some studies on that. We started last night.”

Elkins was unable to give a specific timeframe on any possible changes that could be in the works. A number of DP teams have private testing scheduled at Daytona next month, in advance of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5, 2014.

28 Comments

  1. Pat

    November 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    The aero package “had yet to be evaluated in a full-scale wind tunnel until” the day before the test. That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. The people managing this series are IDIOTS. Of course, it isn’t that surprising, as it’s the same collection of idiots that mismanaged GA and ALMS. Perhaps they should purchase a P2 and a DP and have an independent driver do the BoP. Like a professional racing series does.

  2. pdxracefan

    November 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Well. This is very interesting. Same tire used here for the last two years and now this is happening. Maybe the tire was being right on the edge before, and now it’s over the edge with the aero and power changes. Don’t mean to be negative, but I never understood why IMSA embraced Conti for all but GTLM. I mean, it’s not like Conti is The Tire To Have In Racing Worldwide.

    • Jack

      November 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      this is why i dont like a spec tire series, there is no development to make it better, or faster, but just to maintain, with higher speed its no surprise that a crappy tire is having problems on a car that is actually fast

      • ACE_SGV

        November 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

        I agree spec tires sucks. That’s why i watch Super GT. Bridgestone, Yokohama, Dunlop, Kumho, Michelin and Hankook all in one series.

        • KJ Maxwell

          November 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm

          I watch Super GT as well, but not for the different tires.
          Though the cars are silhouettes anymore I can still enjoy them when I have some Kirin beer and good Japanese suchi.

          • ACE_SGV

            November 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

            KJ your making me hungry! Their top class is more like a prototype that’s why is faster than a P2 car. I wish Super GT had English commentary because at times when the race gets intense the commentator sounds like a Godzilla movie..

    • KJ Maxwell

      November 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Sponsorship dollars and run of network ads promoting Conti involvement in USCC as well as the ad buys on the race broadcasts. Those are the reasons Conti is the P Class supplier.

      It’s also part of why LMGT is there.They are way overpriced, confusing to casual fans, and unneeded as GTD is better. (especially if left unhindered in pure GT3 form)
      But the manufacturers running cars in GTLM will buy TV time that allow the events to be shown live to those who have Fox2.

      • Pat

        November 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm

        LOL, Kurt. Your delusions are amazing.

        • KJ Maxwell

          November 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

          It will probably go against what Saul Alinsky would tell you to do, but can you tell me how I am delusional?

          Your hit and run tactics are classic RFR material, and you do it well. But please specific for once about how you think I am wrong. Then enlighten us all with how things really are. I am just fine with objective criticism and constructive debate. But vague one liners with LOL attached to them don’t add anything to the discussion.

          Since many of my ideas have come from others in the sport I guess that many G/A participants are delusional as well. Again, tell me where I am wrong so I can inform those who clearly don’t know as much as you do what the real truth is.

          On the other hand,perhaps you are just someone trolling for trouble? Is this just a set up to elicit a negative response
          from someone you don’t agree with?

          Maybe you should stick to Racer.com where they are a day late and a dollar short when it comes to sports car racing news. They are also very biased and will erase any post from someone who would even dare to reply to an attack from someone like yourself.

          • Pat

            November 21, 2013 at 3:24 am

            There isn’t a need to explain anything. Your incredibly insane comments speak for themselves.

          • KJ Maxwell

            November 21, 2013 at 4:43 am

            Just what I would expect from someone like you. Gutless hit and run sniping with nothing to back it up.

            Thanks for playing. You remind me of the people who hate Fox News but can’t remember any specific reason why.

            I guess you are just a sad little nobody looking for attention. I’ll pray for you.

  3. Jason

    November 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Imagine if the Rolex 24 had another tire-gate like the F1 US grand prix. We’d end up with a GT only race. Worse case scenario though. I think IMSA and Continental will get this figured out. Thankfully nothing worse than 2 damaged Corvettes and bad PR. Hopefully it stays that way.

    • KJ Maxwell

      November 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Had the same thought,Jason.

      More likely they will ban the few ugly DPs left on safety grounds and NASCAR will give them a beautiful shiny new Panoz Deltawing to replace it.

      Too bad for me if that happens as we have a couple of eldercare companies interested in joining one of the DP teams.

      • KJ Maxwell

        November 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm

        Thinking about it I’m not sure if the change to a Deltawing would be of interest to any corporate partner unless it was an electric vibrator company that saw the obvious tie in.

        This whole thing has a “you can keep your healthplan” feel to it. Keep up the great work Scotty A. You had 18 months to prepare for the roll out and the results are indeed spectacular.Of course this may have been the idea from the beginning just as a single payer plan in healthcare was the goal all along. Progressives seem to find massive change to be so much fun as there are opportunities to get everything their own way in the end. This is ALMS 2.0 without the EPA (so far)and we know how that went down.

        It’s PWC and Blancpain GT for me. They seem to have a better grasp on things and GT supercars are clearly becoming more popular than a handful of prototype cars that one one can relate to.

        Given how things are going it could be that Daytona, Sebring,WG 6 Hours and PLM will become GT only contests in the future once Jim France decides he’s had enough of funding what no one cares about with NASCAR money.

        It is entertaining to watch. While DP team owners are suffering I just pray that no one gets injured physically in testing as this all plays out.

        • Jason

          November 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          Very well said KJ

        • KJ Maxwell

          November 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

          Correction-”handful of prototype cars that NO one can relate to.”

          Besides,there would be no more DP vs LMP car flame wars if GT was the only thing out there,right? Doesn’t everyone like GT supercars ? It seems to be the most stable class of racing in the world and stability is what sports car road racing needs most if it is to prosper.

          • Mvez

            November 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

            Couldn’t agree more. GT-LM and GTD need their own race. Wait, actual races, with more than 2 cars in a class fighting for a win and championship. Instead, we get neutered GT racing so that we can include DP crapwagons, and PC cars, that literally NOBODY has ever cared to watch.

            You want to solve the problem, and save lives. Shit-can all rovals. Everybody wins.

  4. Bakkster

    November 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    “We don’t design these cars to go backwards,” Elkins said.

    Sadly, that’s a big oversight. We know what happened at Le Mans when cars with relatively simple aerodynamics started getting too fast. That should have been the easiest lesson from history to learn: cars don’t always go forwards.

    Even within NASCAR that problem was already tackled, why nobody saw this coming is a big question mark, and there isn’t a lot of time to fix it.

  5. Denys Lalande

    November 20, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Well, it certainly didn’t take long for the thoroughgoing incompetence and stupidity of ALMS to take root. Only ALMS ever had problems with “blowovers” during the War; GA cars stayed planted on the pavement. Now the ALMS has come over — and what do we get?

    It is time for the Losers Of The War to accept: You way does not work. Never has. Never will. You are not part of the solution — you are part of the problem; quit being part of the problem, stand down, and let the Winners get on with the business of running a series properly.

    • FLMFan

      November 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      DPs never had issues with blowovers until now because they were so slow. Speed them up and make them into a proper race car and they have issues.

    • KJ Maxwell

      November 21, 2013 at 12:33 am

      I am beginning to think that incompetence and laziness come from both parties.

      No matter what ones position was as far as DP v LMP it is clear to me that, just like that city by the Potomac,sports car racing is full of empty suits who have played us all while feathering their own nests. Neither organization made money, but the management did fine. I’ ll bet few of them are as worked up about the goings on at Daytona as most of the teams or the loyal sports car enthusiasts that will post here tonight.

    • Bakkster

      November 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

      So, the referring to ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ is the problem.

      If we’re preoccupied trying to be the winners, we all become losers. We’re going to sink or swim together.

  6. Hedgey

    November 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Yet another thing left to the last minute. With the number of problems being discovered late, entry cap questions, regulation questions and a billion other things that probably still wont be worked out before January, I’m starting to worry that the Daytona 24 could be a bit farcical.

    I really want the series to work but the people in charge are just making a gigantic hash of it so far. :(

    • KJ Maxwell

      November 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Not the way to run things at all,Hedgey. 18+ months to get it right and it looks like things are worse than ever.

      Two poorly run organizations merged into one is a sure fire formula for disaster. Clean house on both sides of this deal and get people who know what they are doing in there.People who actually care.

      But just like what happens when things go wrong in government I’m sure that no heads will roll and in turn the USCC will never gain traction.Only the competitors and the fans will suffer. The people who run things will still fly first class and feed us more propaganda to keep us interested.

      GT3, from Blancpain to all of the healthy national series gives me hope. PWC here in N.America gives me hope as well.

      Like Mvez said, there can be actual racing! So true, and not just a theory. How Scotty A. could let the ALMS limp along for so long makes me wonder what sort of knee pads he used to be kept on for what is seemingly becoming ALMS 2.0.

      “For the Fans” should have been “For Scotty A.”

      • Pat

        November 21, 2013 at 3:24 am

        Wow, you’re insane.

        • KJ Maxwell

          November 21, 2013 at 4:46 am

          Like I said, I’m praying for you. You seem to be the one with the issues.

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