Audi teams are expecting a challenging Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday as a result of what its drivers believe is an unfavorable Balance of Performance for the R8 LMS Evo.
New-for-2019 GT3 cars, including the Audi, are running in their first full-season IMSA BoP spec for the first time this weekend, after an event-specific BoP was used at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The new Audi is running 60kg heavier than its predecessor did at the Motul Petit Le Mans and 40kg heavier than Daytona in January, although with a 1 mm larger air restrictor since the season-opener.
While these changes aren’t directly consequential for this race, given the car’s extensive updates since Petit Le Mans, Audi teams have expressed displeasure over the recent change.
“I think it’s no surprise that any time you add 40 or 60 kilos to a race car, it’s going to have a negative effect and obviously that was the goal from the IMSA side,” Starworks Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel told Sportscar365.
“Obviously, the Audis are not in the top ten right now and I don’t expect them to be at this point.
“It’s just been a tough start to the Audi campaign from all the teams, but I think as a team, we’re getting the most out of the car.”
When asked how the car’s pace compares to the season-opener, Dalziel was far from optimistic: “Way worse,” he replied.
“[It’s] not even probably close on pace to what we had at Daytona.”
Audi factory driver Christopher Mies agrees with Dalziel’s assessment, adding that he doesn’t think the increase in restrictor size is enough to balance out the additional weight.
“We were hoping to get a bigger restrictor but we didn’t get one so we’re obviously struggling a bit more because we’re 10 to 15 km/h slower on the straight,” he explained to Sportscar365.
“We’re on the same pace as the Mercedes now but obviously we’re still missing the torque. That’s why we need a bigger restrictor.
“We were hoping that we kind of have an agreement that we have more downforce, more drag, and therefore we need a bigger restrictor.”
Dalziel remains hopeful of a respectable result if Starworks is able to play the strategy right, and depending on weather conditions.
The No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi of Kelvin van der Linde, Frederic Vervisch, Ian James and Roman de Angelis finished third in class in January’s rain-shortened Rolex 24 at Daytona, although showed strong pace in the dry as well.
“I think we’re hoping for rain,” Dalziel said. “I think we’re hoping we have better strategy and better race pace.
“I think the Michelin is struggling a little bit with rear grip.
“Our plan now is to try and make the car good through the whole stint, maybe get creative and try to do something creative on tire stints.
“Realistically, outright speed and pace is not what we’re going to be strong at.
“If this is what we’re going to race with, I guess we’ve got to get creative and let Peter [Baron] work some magic on our strategy to get to the front. For sure, we’re not where we need to be.”