TUSC Sebring Winter Test: Balance of Power Revisited

February 20, 2014 Updated: February 21, 2014

SEBRING, Fla.—The 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship Winter Test is underway at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway. For the rest of today and all of Friday, the fastest sports cars in North America will be lapping the bumpy 3.74-mile, 17-turn racetrack, preparing for the Sebring 12 Hours in March.

Traditionally the Winter Test has been the first outing for the teams since the end of the previous season; team would bring whatever they had invented or devised over the off-season and see how it all worked on Sebring’s punishing concrete.

This year, all that has changed due to the unification of the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Sportscar Series into TUSC. The Sebring 12 Hour is no longer the season opener; teams did several days of testing at Daytona in early January and raced in the Rolex 24 at the end of that month. Most teams already have more miles on their cars now than they had had by May of any other year.

This year’s test serves a very different purpose: rebalancing performance between the various cars in various classes, but most important, working out the balance between in the premier Prototype class, where the lighter, less powerful, but much more aerodynamic P2s compete with the more powerful but much heavier Daytona Prototypes.

The DPs are running all their added aero parts at Sebring—the dive planes and diffusers that were removed for Daytona have been re-installed. The DPs, a few hundred pounds heavier are now making almost as much downforce as the P2s, while still making about 150 more horsepower.

The #10 DP Wayne Taylor Racing Dallara-Corvette was second quickest; this shot shows the new rear diffuser. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The #10 DP Wayne Taylor Racing Dallara-Corvette was second quickest; this shot shows the new rear diffuser. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)

However it all adds up on paper, it seems to be working out fine on track—the four fastest cars include two P2s and two DPs, all running in about a second-and-a-half of each other. As teams tune their high-downforce setting these times might change but for now, the gap between the fastest car of each type is about the same as it was during the Rolex 24.

TUSC management has managed to balance the two radically different types of prototypes at two radically different tracks: Daytona, three-quarters of which is perfectly smooth banking, and Sebring, which is bumpy and twisty with turns ranging in speed from seventy to over 170 mph.

This should be a huge relief to ALMS fans who worried that the DPs might get coddled by the new series, and equally to Rolex fans which thought DPs wouldn’t have a chance at any track but Daytona.

Judging from the first test session, the 2014 Twelve Hours of Sebring is going to be a hotly contested race, with any of 18 Prototype entries able to take the overall win.

The TUSC Sebring Winter test is open to the public and admission is only $10. For more information visit IMSA.com.

Top Cars in Class:

 

In class

Class

Car

Team

Car

Best lap

1

1

P

42

OAK Racing

Nissan Morgan

1:53.204

10

1

PC

25

8Star Motorsports

ORECA FLM09

1:55.940

13

1

GTLM

912

Porsche North America

Porsche 911 RSR

2:00.048

23

1

GTD

007

TRG-AMR

Aston Martin V12 Vantage

2:05.655

The #25 8Star Oreca Chevrolet was quickest in PC even though it crashed at Turn Seven halfway through the first sessions. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The #25 8Star Oreca Chevrolet was quickest in PC even though it crashed at Turn Seven halfway through the first sessions. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)

 

The #912 Porsche North America 911 RSR was quickest of the GTLMs. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The #912 Porsche North America 911 RSR was quickest of the GTLMs. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)

 

The #007 Aston Martin was quickest in GTD in the morning sessions. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The #007 Aston Martin was quickest in GTD in the morning sessions. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)

 

 

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