Honda Performance Development VP and COO Steve Eriksen says he’s hopeful that recent changes to IMSA’s Balance of Performance process will lead to a “more predictable” outcome on the track this year in the new-look DPi class.
IMSA’s BoP evolution, rolled out during the Roar Before the Rolex 24, features greater transparency through a new process that includes manufacturer-supplied data and the implementation of two-race rolling averages.
While entering the second season of the Acura Team Penske partnership, Eriksen said a large focus has been placed to help evolve IMSA’s BoP approach after what he believes were several inconsistencies and overreactions in the process throughout 2018.
“From the beginning, we didn’t want to create a BoP environment where a great driver can’t come in and excel. We want to attract the best, particularly in the top class,” Eriksen told Sportscar365.
“A big part of this off-season period was the DPi manufacturers working together with IMSA. We’ve had a series of meetings, each of us making suggestions where we thought we could make improvements in the process.
“To IMSA’s credit, they adopted quite a few of them. Now it’s an experiment to see if these changes improve the process.
“We’re going to see how well that’s improved things. I think there’s logic to what they’re doing and the approach they’re using. We just need to see how it plays out.”
The pair of Acura ARX-05 DPis had a competitive debut season, with six podium finishes, including a 1-2 sweep of the weekend at Mid-Ohio, although hampered by a series of mid-season BoP changes that saw the cars unable to achieve a repeat victory.
In total, the Acura DPi was subject to nine BoP adjustments over the course of the ten-round season, prompting Eriksen and other manufacturer representatives to push for increased stability in the regs.
“Different cars have a different appropriateness to different circuits,” Eriksen said. “You just can’t have constant BoP changes. You can quickly lose track of what’s going on.
“With the LMP2 decision that was made by IMSA, that took one moving target out of the picture, which should make it easier to balance the remaining configurations.
“It’s refinement. We all said, let’s take what we’ve got that’s good and let’s address what we don’t see as useful or as effective as it can be. We all have separate resources that we can bring to bear.
“We all fed back our own reports, which we shared with each other. There was no secret squirrel stuff. We’re all in this together and we want to make this the best class we can.”
Eriksen said he’s been pleased with the degree of teamwork from all DPi manufacturers that have the shared vision of a more transparent approach.
“I’m hopeful that the changes made to the evolution of the BoP will provide a more predictable outcome,” he said.
“One of the things we’ve suggested to IMSA is, ‘You guys predict what you think is going to happen, based on the analysis you do. Then let’s have the race, and after the race let’s see how well what happened correlated with what you thought was going to happen. If there are gaps, let’s identify the gaps and figure out how to improve the correlation.’
“If it correlates well, great. I think they’re pretty committed to doing that. It will help to be able to better predict outcomes.”
Eriksen: Acura, Penske Better Prepared in Second Year
With a full year of data now under its belt, Eriksen believes Acura Team Penske is better prepared heading into the season ahead.
Correlations between its simulation work and real-world data have already seen gains, as the team returns to tracks for the first time.
“If I look back over the year, that was one major area that got better and better,” Eriksen said. “We had more tracks under our belt and figured out what went right and what didn’t.
“I think that’s going to come into play more this year, now that we’ve got a full season’s worth of running with the car. That’s a big part of how we can improve our competitiveness.
“Most of the other details are fixed. We didn’t make new chassis or engine homologations. We just kept refining what we have.”
Eriksen said he’s been pleased with the “very easy working” relationship with Team Penske.
“The nice thing is that they don’t make excuses,” he said. “They just want to solve problems and win.
“Whenever a problem came up, they’re just on it and not pointing fingers or assigning blame. It’s been a very nice working relationship from that standpoint and I’m excited about the season going forward.”