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Brown: LMP2s Were in “Another Category” to DPi Performance

United Autosports hits out at LMP2, DPi performance discrepancy at Sebring…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

United Autosports has hit out over the disparity in performance from the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with Zak Brown stating that LMP2 cars were in “another category” to the DPis on Saturday.

DPi machinery swept the overall podium, led by the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi of Pipo Derani, Johannes van Overbeek and Nico Lapierre, which claimed victory in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

ESM’s Nissan DPi, along with all four Cadillac DPi-V.Rs and pair of Team Penske Acura ARX-05s dominated the race, with the Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P setting the fastest race lap and its sister Mazda DPi remaining in contention until the final hour.

Jarvis’ best lap of 1:49.002 compared to the quickest LMP2 car, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson of Pato O’Ward, which was more than 1 second adrift at a 1:50.049.

The nine fastest race times in the class were all DPis.

Brown, who co-owns the Anglo-American squad with Richard Dean, claims they “cannot currently compete” with the more powerful IMSA-spec DPis.

The team’s No. 32 Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Paul Di Resta, Alex Brundle and Phil Hanson finished fifth overall, but largely due to attrition, benefitting from engine-related issues for both Acura DPis and accidents for two of the four Cadillac DPis.

“I’m extremely proud of our team’s performance but it’s abundantly clear that the LMP2 class cars are in another category [compared to DPi],” Brown said.

“LMP2 cars cannot currently compete on development and subsequent pace.

“We are racing with the hope the DPi cars are unreliable. We didn’t have the speed to race them [DPi] here.”

Dean shared similar views post-race, following a near-flawless Sebring debut for the team, which completed an overnight engine change, only its second-ever in LMP2 competition.

“To finish fifth and on the lead lap on the team’s Sebring debut is incredible especially considering the handicap that we are having to cope with concerning the pace of the DPi cars,” he said.

“All three drivers drove fantastically well.

“Phil was magnificent in his maiden Sebring race which was only his eighth race in an LMP2, Paul was also having his first race at Sebring, only his second sports car race, but looks like a seasoned endurance driver, while Alex ‘subbed’ superbly for the team.

“Like the drivers, the team made no mistakes in the pits, every stop was perfect.

“I’m proud of everyone in the team but very, very disappointed in the DPi-LMP2 discrepancies in terms of performance.”

IMSA made a series of pre-event Balance of Performance changes, which impacted every DPi manufacturer, either with weight increases or power reductions, following January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Di Resta, meanwhile called the BoP an “embarrassing waste of time.”

“IMSA must get it sorted if they want teams from Europe to head here,” he said.

United is currently committed to the four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which continues with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. JD

    March 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    You either have to get the DPi back to the LMP2 or just admit you’re fooling yourself and truly make it its own category. I’d like to see it fundamentally be LMP2 Pro and LMP2 Am just like how they break up the GT cars anyway.

    • daedalus

      March 18, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      If you make LMP2 its own class it will disappear. The lmp2 teams have made it clear on many occasions that not being able to compete for overall victory is a deal breaker, they will just go to ELMS where they can fight for overall wins. IMSA sniffs at the lmp2s at its peril. If mazda say enough is enough if the tech issues continue and ESM quits due to the new patron owners not wanting to carry on next year then all of a sudden you are down to 6 prototypes.

  2. Steven

    March 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Cost-capped vs. open budget. IMSA’s fault for never splitting the classes to begin with. It will only get worse in terms of the separation. If it wasn’t for the invite to Le Mans with having an amateur driver, there would be zero reason to have field an LMP2 car in IMSA. You are better off in ELMS if the budget isn’t there for the WEC.

    The European teams came across to try and win Daytona and Sebring because the cars are suppose to be evenly balanced according to IMSA. Though IMSA has made it pretty clear they only want DPi’s to be upfront and win. I’m guessing this will be the final year any European or Asian entries bother racing the 36 hours.

  3. Kyle

    March 18, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Even if you continue to peg back the DPis they’ll claw at least some pace back through development. Manufacturers will spend, spend, spend to make these things quicker as the window gets tighter and the development-free LMP2s will always be a step behind. And then you peg them back so far manufacturers wonder why they spent time and money building engines that wind up so choked-off and neutered.

    It’s hard not to see this class getting split up at some point.

    • Haskellb

      March 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      I agree that the DPI’s need to be slowed down a little more, but the DPI’s don’t get unlimited development. The Nissan was homologated last year. The Caddi was also homologated except for the new smaller engine. Acura gets this season to tweak the car and then it will be locked through 2020. Mazda was given an extra year to get their car competitive because it and the Multimatic/Riley were such train wrecks.

  4. jason

    March 18, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    No sympathy here for Zach Brown, his driver line up is not the caliber of the DPI teams. Rebellion would compete at the front just fine if they were running the race yesterday. Same for Jackie Chan DC.

    • Bird

      March 18, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      Paul Di Resta and Alex Brundle aren’t top caliber drivers?

      • Kurt

        March 19, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Alex Brundle is not comparable to a Cameron or Nasr. Look at his average laptime for the race. I agree that DPi still has the edge, but they also have better teams, better drivers, and work full time to improve. I do not feel bad for United, being at Sebring I saw how messy and chaotic they always looked in the paddock. Clearly they had just flown over and reprepped the car at the track while teams like Action/Penske/WTR/etc work full time to get the best results. Also their pit strategy at the end was poor. Come on, you set up to pit to go to the end, not 15min short (can’t make that up under 3 cautions).

    • Mike S.

      March 18, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      And also the Dpi’s were driving dodgey most of the daylight hours so United’s driver pairing was quiet in that front. Ask Vautier, Renger even as well as the teammates Whelan/Mustang Sampling who tangled.

  5. Bird

    March 18, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Do you know who Paul Di Resta is?

    • Douglas

      March 19, 2018 at 4:19 am

      Overrated driver. 8 wins in 8 years in DTM Three years F1 never on podium only three podiums in 2017 in DTM

      • Bird

        March 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

        Still better than Felipe Nasr’s career in F1. And he is one of the DPi drivers. My point is that the statement “all of the DPi drivers are better than all the LMP2 drivers” is not true

        • Alexx

          March 20, 2018 at 8:00 am

          Nasr will mop the floor with Di Resta any day.

  6. Mike S.

    March 18, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Agree with Bird here. Also, that wasn’t the only spec P2 that was slower.. If it was the only slower P2 then there isn’t an issue. They all were slow so its more than just the drivers that are the problem.

    • Mike S.

      March 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      I will say though as much as there is a balance issue a few years ago this happened with the DP’s and P2’s. By the time the Non NAEC races started IMSA did get them balanced probably as well as can be expected with Shank getting a win at Laguna in the P2 and with the then Mazda/Lola also up to speed. Also, not writing off this season but lets see how the Michelin’s will help the P2’s next season too.

      • Steven

        March 18, 2018 at 7:58 pm

        Michelins will not help the P2’s as the DPi’s will be on them also next season.

        If you want to have a fairer race. IMSA needs to let the LMP2’s on the Dunlop or Michilen LMP2 spec tire that WEC, ELMS, and ALMS all run on. Leave the DPi’s on the Conti tires and work the BoP from there.

        The P2’s should’ve gained at least 1-2 seconds/lap at Sebring running on their correct tire.

        • Try again Steven

          March 20, 2018 at 7:59 am

          Correct tire?? Who runs on the Michelin in LMP2? I believe the LMP2 tire of choice is NOT the Michelin at this time.

          Maybe research and come with actual factual information, then post.

  7. Marc

    March 18, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    I’m glad this article was written and I hope IMSA gets asked what they thought about the discrepancy in performance. Clearly, IMSA has done a good job of balancing the DPis to each other as well as balancing the GT cars. However, it was obvious there was a DPi v P2 gap.

    Looking at the 2017 lap times, the P2s ran the same times as this year (low 1:50:xx). This year there was a new Conti tire and I don’t recall the weather last year even though I have been to the last 9 Sebring races (it always seems hot!).

    Last year my favorite races to watch were the last half of the season when the Nissan’s and P2s became competitive. For the sake of the health of the series IMSA needs to homologate the DPIs, which they will, while using their BOP tools. They will get there, like they did last year. We all thought that it would happen right away, but the truth is: Mazdas were all new, Cadillac has the new engine and Acura is new.

    Before all the DPi favortisim comments come out, let’s see what IMSA does before the Long Beach race…

  8. AF

    March 18, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    This is the arguement that has been predictably coming since DPI was announced. The fact the DPI teams can also develop their cars, as all three of last years teams have, beyond the ACO performance updates for the Ligier, Dallara and Riley, tells you exactly why there are no decent teams running a proper spec LMP2 car in IMSA this year.

  9. Jess Deason

    March 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    I came to Sebring on a fact finding mission for my employer. We thought it was prudent to visit and see for ourselves. If anything it is very obvious the Dpi cars have a significant advantage in HP and torque and development. We walked the track with a radar gun to see where cars had and advantage and the answer the Dpi cars had an advantage everywhere. Radar guns do not lie.

    As far as we are concerned, there is no benefit to racing in IMSA. They need to make some adjustments. Without doing so, it would be a waste of funds to race for 10th place or worse.

    • jason

      March 18, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Ok then go run in GTD.

      • Jess Deason

        March 18, 2018 at 6:32 pm

        We only race prototypes. We have no interest is racing in an amateur class.

        • Slicks in the wet

          March 19, 2018 at 10:15 am

          Go in on funding with RISI and run in GTLM?

        • Realist

          March 20, 2018 at 6:15 pm

          Is the the same jess that has allegedly been working in an engineering role for at least the last 18 months for a to be announced 2 car prototype team that has been “testing”? Get over yourself, stop typing on here and do more work to speed up your fictitious race cars.

    • Kurt

      March 19, 2018 at 8:47 am

      You’ve forgot to consider the caliber of driver lineups, preparation, and testing. For example, PR1 wasn’t even at the Sebring test, which is a joke to expect to compete with a new driver lineup. Meanwhile Penske/Joest/ESM/GM were testing at Sebring multiple times, doing 12 and 24hr race simulations on track, etc. Your team will never compete well at the top level if you just look for excuses. You’ve made the right decision, look at P3 instead.

    • Marc

      March 19, 2018 at 9:23 am

      The advantage must be under initial acceleration out of the corner as the top trap speeds IMSA has provided does not scream alarming disparity. 2 of the top 5 in trap speeds were LMP2s while 5 of the top 11 were LMP2s. If anything, the Cadillacs were definitely the slowest in top speed (2 of the bottom 3 were Cadillacs). Overall, of the bottom 5 trap speeds, DPIs had 4 of the slowest overall trap speeds.

    • Alexx

      March 20, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Maybe you should have your radar gun re calibrated as these the fastest speeds recorded during the event.
      22 Johannes van Overbeek Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi 176.624 69 Race
      P 2 Olivier Pla Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi 176.257 16 Practice 4
      P 85 Simon Trummer JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 175.527 9 Practice 1
      P 6 Dane Cameron Acura Team Penske Acura DPi 175.164 4 Practice 4
      P 54 Romain Dumas CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 174.803 34 Practice 3
      P 7 Graham Rahal Acura Team Penske Acura DPi 174.803 8 Practice 4
      P 55 Spencer Pigot Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi 174.085 22 Practice 3
      P 90 Tristan Vautier Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi 174.085 203 Race
      P 99 Chris Miller JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 174.085 7 Practice 1
      P 32 Paul Di Resta United Autosports Ligier LMP2 173.729 5 Practice 1
      P 52 Gustavo Yacaman AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LMP2 173.729 15 Practice 1
      P 10 Ryan Hunter-Reay Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R Cadillac DPi 173.373 16 Practice 1
      P 38 Pato O’Ward Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LMP2 173.373 19 Practice 1
      P 31 Mike Conway Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi 173.020 15 Practice 3
      P 77 Rene Rast Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi 173.020 19 Practice 4

  10. speedy

    March 18, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    What happen if say a team name Penske were to get a LMP2 car and run right with these DPI’s teams car , and these other LMP2 team’s can’t do the same then, what will people say next?

    • Brifred

      March 18, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Penske did EXACTLY that last year at Petit LeMans.

    • Jake

      March 19, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Exactly. While I dont argue that DPi’s may have an advantage at this point, its not comparing apples to apples. Most of the spec P2’s are run by less experinced teams with driver lineups that arent up to par. Core and JDC are probably the two best P2 (full season) teams. Core may run the Porsche GTLM team, but the side that run the P2, also ran in GTD last season, and didnt do all that well. Couple that with the non Oreca teams are running at a known handicap that IMSA cant do anything about.

      What is the answer? Acura, ESM and Mazda could probably see some boost reductions. The Cadillac is already slowest in the speed traps, and running heavier than any other DPi or P2. Shrinking the restrictor will be troublesome to keep even in the same ballpark.

  11. GridS2Plaza

    March 18, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    A 1 second gap should not be insurmountable. I don’t think the sky is falling just yet. Let’s see how well WEC BOPs the non-hybrids to the Toyotas.

    Here’s hoping that IMSA can reach the needed adjustments to keep everyone happy.

    I for one don’t see a conspiracy to keep the P2 spec cars non-competitive against the DPis.

    If BOP whining ceases to be a topic of discussion it will be mighty quiet on these boards.

  12. Steve

    March 18, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Need Porsche to bring back another RS Spyder.

  13. Amlv20

    March 19, 2018 at 3:04 am

    So how many years did the aco spend saying they were going to balance the diesels to the petrols,and then the hybrids to the non hybrids?yea right that didn’t happen! And they chased every one away and ruined the p1 class for manufactures that are not even around they are stuck with Toyota and rebellion,so deperate they are willing to push aside everyone from drivers,teams,partners,and the whole damn industry just so a washed up f1 driver can “compete”.how are they going to balance that? Ya really think they are going to let rebellion beat Alonso? Don’t fool your selves……..the wec is a crack pot now,imsa is where it’s at and its gonna go places with aco p2s or not.

  14. Av

    March 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

    The factories are always going to be able to develop the car more than a private team. Budget,resources and engineers. Thats not going to stop. Maybe they can find ways to give more speed to the lmp2 here in the USA.

  15. bjones

    March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Michilens will make a Hugh difference to the P2 cars. The P2s are developed on Mich and Dunlops, not the Nascar spec Contis. The Gibson runs in a higher RPM where the rest are torquers. Hince These motors are quicker to put heat in the Contis. Wondered why the Mazda’s stayed out? The cars were fast on used tires not to mention lower fuel loads.
    With the Crap conti’s out of the picture things will be interesting. One more thought on the P2s at Sebring. She is the ultimate tech track with no room for mistakes, ask young fella about not paying attention while going through #17. Young drivers in the P2 verses more experienced in DPI. Basically a combo of all. Yes I agree the manufacturers will always try to build a bigger and better mousetrap, The P2s get stuck at the spec level unless you get that crew chief that finds a way. Its called racing and Mr. Brown is doing his job as a team owner/leader which is bitching until he gets a little something from the officials. Its called racing.

  16. Alexx

    March 20, 2018 at 8:07 am

    This is all nonsense, as the Oreca in the hands of Team Penske at Road Atlanta was on pole (and they were running the Gibson engine as well) and was more than capable of winning that race had Helio not had his issue with getting knocked off the track early in the race. You can’t do a BOP based on poor setups and driver lineups. You want a different result Zac? then buy an Oreca and put somre real drivers in the car as Di Resta isn’t it by a long shot. Sorry pal….

  17. JD

    March 20, 2018 at 10:02 am

    The question really is how much is driver versus how much is car. Obviously most DPi teams are going to have better drivers than most LMP2 teams. I think LMP2 cars need a little more, just looking best laps. Dumas and Braun, I think are the best combo of drivers in an LMP2. And no LMP2s broke into 1:37s at Daytona, CORE was about half a second off. At Sebring they were a second off and no LMP2s broke into 1:49s.

    It’d be nice if there was a way IMSA could hire a guy like Scott Pruett to baseline test cars. But I’m sure teams would still find a way to game that too.

    That’s really the thing that sucks about sports car racing today. It’s the risk that it’s not about the best race car or the best drivers, but whoever can game BoP the best.

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