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It Seems Like Ages Ago

It seems like ages ago already, but Daytona was only about a month ago and here we are coming up on Sebring already.  Time flies…

Before Sebring, the Grand Am series heads to COTA for a race, the first of what is hoped and expected to be a long run of sportscar races to be held at  the spectacular circuit.  In the aftermath of a rather controversial “balance” between the DP competitors, the series released a new technical bulletin read it here  which is staggeringly full of red ink.  Changes galore amongst the DP engine regulations, mostly centered upon the following:

If deemed necessary by GRAND-AM, a GRAND-AM issued throttle body spacer must be installed and must remain unaltered.  All intake air must pass through the GRAND-AM issued spacer. Any attempt to, and/or actions that result in air being introduced to the engine from sources other than approved methods (through the throttle bodies and/or throttle spacers) will not be permitted and is subject to penalties.

There must have been some rather interesting findings in the post race technical evaluations to prompt such language.  Personally, I feel racing that is marketed as close competition and is based upon tight controls of regulations is doomed to failure, or at the least will be bogged down with technical and political squabbles, much like we saw last season in the DP class.  As with anywhere in racing, it is those that have the money will find a way to win, one way or another.

Which leads us to the next item of news – 2014 will see the introduction of turbos to the DP class.  The often rumored and greatly delayed Ford based Roush-Yates 3.5 liter V6 direct injection twin turbo is expected to debut in 2014, after undergoing extensive testing during the 2013 season. This will bring forth even more work for the techies, as they attempt to strike a balance between not just the various V8 motors, but also the introduction of the higher tech motors, such as this Ford.  But at least the series is growing and evolving.  The faster and the further it can move away from the early days of the DPs, the better off we all will be.  The image of the Picchio is still stashed away in my brain – please make it stop…

Also, thanks to the efforts of Ed Brown and the Extreme Speed Motorsports gang, they will have to strike a future balance with the LMP2 class also.  It was a surprise announcement when ESM announced they were dropping the Ferrari plans for the ALMS and were heading into the P2 category – a surprise, but a very pleasant one at that.  That announcement basically revived what was looking to be a rather dead/dormant class for 2013 in the ALMS and brought forth hope that the class will not only survive but possibly prosper in the future of the merged series.  The ESM announcement apparently has also dragged Level 5 from the sidelines and back to competition.  Now we have at least a 4-car class to pay attention to, but ironically those 4 cars are all HPD, which effectively makes P2 for the moment a spec class.

While not yet formally announced, the Level 5 effort will likely be changed up.  Gone appears to be the until now ever present and often unsmiling Frenchman, replaced by some younger drivers, for now only officially known as tba.

Most of the gossipy type news abounding on the internet is focused on what 2014 will bring.  That is a mistake – a big one.  2013 will be a massive step towards the future, as well as a rather somber look back at what we have had.  But to be honest, 2013, 2014 and even 2015 are simply dress rehearsals for what we will see in North America in 2016. Anything that happens now and in the following 2 seasons will pave the way for what we will see come 2016.  And that is why the rising of the P2 class in 2013 is important.  Without it, DP would be the top class by default.  With it, the P2 class will have to be figured into any future regulations which may possibly lead to a merged category that may fit into regulations worldwide.  That could be a very good thing.

The future possibilities are endless – I just hope they are positive…

Gary Horrocks