Despite a large performance gap in qualifying, no Balance of Performance changes are expected between the DP and P2 cars ahead of tomorrow’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
DP cars swept first three rows for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opener, with the quickest P2 machine, the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Oreca 03 Nissan of Lucas Luhr ending up 1.559 seconds slower than Alex Gurney’s pole-time.
According to IMSA tech boss Scot Elkins, who spoke with Sportscar365 Friday afternoon, no post-qualifying adjustments are expected, despite some lobbying from P2 teams and manufacturers.
“I don’t think there’s going to be anything changed,” Elkins said. “It doesn’t sound right but maybe in some cases it looks worse than it is. The reduction we did on the DP cars got us closer to the P2s. We were 1.6 or 1.7 [seconds] at the Roar. We adjusted the restrictors and they’re now within 1 second.”
Three of the four contending P2 cars suffered issues in qualifying, including engine problems for the No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan, with both HPD ARX-03bs from Extreme Speed Motorsports also not running to full power.
Still, Klaus Graf, who will co-drive Muscle Milk’s Oreca-Nissan with Graf and Alex Brundle, feels the balance has not yet been achieved. DPs were handed a 5 percent reduction in power heading into this weekend, which has yet to reflect on the time charts as the front-running Corvette DPs have matched 1:38 lap times set at the Roar.
“It’s pretty obvious that the top Daytona Prototypes are pretty far ahead,” Graf told Sportscar365. “Obviously they adjusted them after the Roar and we ran to the speed we expected to run. I think it shows it between the P2 cars. Everybody’s very close together. We expect the DPs to be quicker here, that’s just the nature of the track. But I think it’s too much at the moment.”
ESM’s Ryan Dalziel, who won the 2010 Rolex 24 in a Riley-Porsche DP, however, believes their Honda-powered P2 can be a contender for the race as long as they’re able to stay on the lead lap to be in the hunt at the end.
The 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 powerplant had run with a 10 percent larger air restrictor over ACO rules at the Roar but will be on the same 5 percent increase as the Nissans this weekend, although with more boost.
“We’ll see what everybody has once the race comes around,” Dalziel said. “To be honest, we don’t believe we’re going to have the outright pace but we believe we’re really good on the Continental tires. We think we’re quick enough to stay on the lead lap.
“With the speed deficit, we just don’t know how we’re going to race side by side. I think we can definitely hang with them, stay out of trouble and have a good, clean race.”
Another question in the BoP comes with other unknowns, such as fuel mileage and tire wear.
IMSA reduced the fuel capacity of the P2s to 72 liters, with DPs now at 76 liters. Coupled with a 300-pound difference between the two platforms, P2s should be able to double stint tires easier, which could play into the strategy.
“There’s still a lot of factors going into the race,” Graf said. “We’ve seen many scenarios in the ALMS in the last five years when LMP1s and LMP2s raced against each other and there was a massive speed difference. Come race day, everything leveled out. We have to wait and see.
“I know what we can do and how consistent we can run and I know hour our tires are looking at the moment. It’s not over yet. It hasn’t even started yet. We’ll see.”
While unable to challenge for outright pace, Elkins feels the P2 cars should excel in race conditions.
“We all know we’re not going to get it perfect,” he said. “But I think the race-ability aspects and the differences between the P2 and the DP car is what’s going to come into play.
“The P2 car is lighter. It’s got more downforce and is probably going to be better on tires. The DP is doing a little bit faster lap times, faster top speeds.
“At some point over 24 hours, it’s all going to balance itself out. We’re hoping and that’s the plan right now. I think we’ve got it to the best where we could get it.
“There’s nothing drastic that we can do that’s going to be make it any better than what we’re at here. So we’re just going to let them race.”