Riley Motorsports is taking a “survival-like mentality” into the 24-hour race debut for the LMP3 platform according to team principal Bill Riley.
The veteran IMSA constructor and race team is fielding a pair of Ligier JS P320 Nissans in the new-for-2021 class, which has been added as a fifth category alongside DPi, LMP2, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
While a proven package in Europe and Asia, the class has yet to complete a twice-around-the-clock enduro under IMSA or ACO rules, requiring each constructor to homologate an endurance kit with the ACO ahead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The kit, mainly consisting of more durable clutch, has been implemented along with a mandatory eight-minute ‘mechanical’ pit stop to be carried out during the race to allow more extensive servicing.
Despite the precautions laid out, Riley said he hasn’t seen any signs of reliability issues with the cars after multiple tests prior to this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24.
The team had a two-day outing at Daytona in December while also completing a rollout at Carolina Motorsports Park two weeks ago.
“It’s a new car for us but everything is going well,” Riley told Sportscar365. “The team is working hard, the drivers are working well. It’s all going fairly smooth.
“Nothing’s really popped up or we would have figured out a solution with Ligier or the ACO or IMSA. But it is a new class and you’re at a long race so anything can happen.
“It’s definitely going to be a survival-style mentality to this event.
“For all I know, all of the LMP3 cars might have the same issue at Hour 14. You just don’t know.”
Mixed Views on LMP3/GTLM Interaction
Riley said traffic hasn’t been a huge challenge but tomorrow’s Motul Pole Award 100 could provide a preview of what’s to come for the main race.
A number of drivers have voiced concerns over the speeds of the LMP3 cars, which are currently running similar lap times to GTLM cars. What’s more, top speeds appear to be similar between the two classes.
“With only six GTLM cars it hasn’t been too bad,” Riley said. “But it did take us a good lap of being very close to [a GTLM car] to get around it.
“I think it really depends on what drivers in the LMP3 as to what car is going to be the dominant car.
“The speeds seem to be about the same. They have the confidential tires and we have customer tires. It kind of goes back and forth with all of the advantages and disadvantages.”
Nick Tandy, driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, believes everyone will get a better picture of the situation on Sunday.
“It’s quite interesting because currently it looks like on a lap time they are similar to GTLM,” Tandy said. “Also the way they make their lap is very similar with similar straight-line and cornering speeds.
“The interaction between GTLM and LMP3 – with the pro drivers especially – is something new and something we all will have to deal with and co-integrate on the track together.
“It hasn’t been easy to get clear laps for all cars in all classes. It’s difficult but it’s the same for everyone.
“The good thing is we have the qualifying race Sunday. It’s not the 24 Hours but it’s going to be groups of cars probably within the same classes interacting together. We’ll have a much better idea of things after tomorrow afternoon.”