With its switch to the Cadillac DPi-V.R, Spirit of Daytona team principal Troy Flis feels they now have all of the ingredients to compete at the “highest level” in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The longtime IMSA squad, which reverts to its original team name following the end of Visit Florida sponsorship, has an all-new look this year, in the Dallara-chassied Prototype, a return to GM power and a fresh driver lineup in Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry.
The program, which was only formalized late last month, has already made considerable progress, following a successful shakedown at Roebling Road Raceway last week and encouraging results so far at the Roar Before the 24.
In fact, Flis said its planned two-day test Savannah, Ga. went so well they packed up after the first day, having completed its initial check-list.
“The car rolled out of the truck, went out and did everything it’s supposed to do, and came back,” he told Sportscar365.
“We’re not there yet. We’re still probably 85 percent where we want to be.
“The car has run every lap of every session here [at the Roar] and has had no issues so I’m really proud of the build and the quality of the car. All that’s been really great.”
Remarkably, within the first three laps at Daytona on Friday, the No. 90 Cadillac posted a quicker time than the fastest lap from the team’s Riley Mk. 30 Gibson in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, when it finished third overall.
Flis said a season’s worth of experience with LMP2 machinery has allowed them to hit the ground running with its new Cadillac DPi.
“With preparation, you go different ways about it,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot with the different cars and where we stand.
“The cars are pretty much as they are homologated and you don’t get a lot to do with them.
“We’re not prepared that well on that side so we just started this morning playing with some of the setups to learn the car.
“We’re still waiting on some of the parts. Dallara and everyone are wide open trying to make parts for all the teams and everything.
“We’ve got a couple of weeks preparing for that but all in all, I think we’re going to be fine.
“I think we’re going to have everything we need to go out there and compete at the highest level, so I’m very happy.”
Flis on Prototype Differences
Having started the 2017 season with the Riley LMP2 car prior to a mid-season switch to a Ligier JS P217 Gibson and now equipped with the Dallara-built Cadillac, Spirit of Daytona becomes the first team to have run three of the four new-gen LMP2-based prototypes.
Flis said each of the cars have its own characteristics, despite all essentially being built to the same regulations.
“This car and the Ligier are very similar in how they’re built and how the car went together and the thought process of all that,” he said.
“I’d say the [Riley] was more of a challenge, for sure. Even the workability of it on this car, you can get your hands around stuff.
“[The Dallara] does have its couple of quirks, which are tough on, and you’ve got to be a little bit more prepared on doing the changes because it might take longer than what you’d expect it to take.
“All in all, you’re trying to put so much into a little box so it makes it tough. We’re very pleased with how the car’s run so far so we’re definitely excited.”