The winter test at Sebring International Raceway has come and gone. Now, IMSA is analyzing the data from the two days of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship testing and other off-track activities to determine if additional balance of performance needs exist prior to the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on March 15.
“We’re going through the process to see if the changes we made going into the test were correct,” said Scot Elkins, IMSA vice president, competition and technical regulations. “We’re gathering all the data, and feeling pretty good about it.”
The test involved more than on-track activities. IMSA took examples of the Ford, Chevrolet and Honda Prototype (P) engines to the engine dynamometer in Concord, N.C., prior to the testing, establishing new restrictor sizes for the Daytona Prototype cars.
On Monday, the Starworks Honda DP, Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost DP and Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP went to the Windshear Wind Tunnel in Concord to validate the high-downforce setups that were used at the test.
Sebastien Bourdais set the fastest lap of the test, running 1:52.480 in Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette DP. The next eight Prototypes were separated by less than eight-tenths of a second, including three P2 cars (OAK Racing Nissan, Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD Honda and Muscle Milk/Pickett Racing Nissan), the Spirit of Daytona and Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DPs, and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford EcoBoost DPs.
“Sebastien definitely knows his way around Sebring, and the Action Express guys tested a lot in the November test at Sebring,” Elkins said. “That gave them a step up on everybody else. It’s closer than it was, but it’s still not close enough yet. We still have some work to do.”
Of the other P competitors, Starworks tested the turbocharged Honda engine for the first time in a DP, while SpeedSource continued to develop its new SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel. The DeltaWing did not participate in the winter test, but the car has plenty of track time at Sebring to provide IMSA with necessary data.
While the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes both have experience racing at Sebring, GT Daytona (GTD) will race at the historic circuit for the first time in March. The final GTD times saw five marques occupying the top six positions, led by the new Porsche 911 GT America.
“We made some [GTD] adjustments after Daytona,” Elkins said. “We’ll analyze the Sebring testing data and see where we are. It’s tough to make a judgment from the test – because we don’t know what everybody was doing – so we’ll wait until we study the data.”
After Sebring, the TUDOR Championship heads to Long Beach (April 12) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (May 4). Elkins is optimistic that the long hours spent building a competitive platform for both the Daytona Prototypes and LM P2s will have paid off by then.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the year, but definitely going into Long Beach and Mazda Raceway we’re hoping that the package that we will have defined for Sebring is one that we will keep for a few races,” concluded Elkins.