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Catching Up With.... Gabriel Cadringher

Gabriel Cadringher could just be the most important man in North American road racing just now  - It’s under his direction that the thorny task of merging the disparate classes of the ALMS and Grand-Am is being undertaken for 2014.

He’s certainly the right man for the job with a long career in top flight motorsport and with the FIA behind him – The DSC Editor caught up with Gabriel at Daytona and  asked how things were progressing, in particular with the new ‘top’ class which is to encompass current LMP2 and DP machinery.

“Merging the LMP2s and the DPs is a complex issue but it is possible.

“The issue is not just the outright performance but how they get to their current performance levels

“One car, the DP, is designed to be strong, cheap and reliable, based on a tube frame whilst LMP2 has very sophisticated aero and is based on a carbon fibre tub.

“To bring them together in a fair way aero is the key.

“We simulated the two different types of car (with the LMP2 in high downforce configuration) at Mid Ohio and the gap between the LMP and the DP was 6-7 seconds (in favour of the P2).

“That meant that to bring the two together you would either have to increase the aero efficiency of the DP by 75%, or reduce the aero efficiency of the LMP2 by 56%.

“Those are big numbers and you need also to take into account the cost, and the resulting final package – effectively the choice is to improve the DPS or dump aero from the LMPs and there has been no shortage of often very different views on the subject.

“My view is that instead of keeping one type of car static and moving the other to meet it you should move both closer together. 

“For the LMP2s that might mean, for instance, blocking off part of the diffuser, for the DPs it might mean a new rear wing and diffuser with balancing aero at the front too.

“The changes to the LMP2s should be reversible too, to allow the owners and teams to compete against the cars racing elsewhere, for instance at Le Mans.

“The prospect though of a standalone class at Le Mans is an interesting one with the DPs and equalised LMP2s racing together as a separate class – And I think that’s a real possibility!

“It’s important too though to say that this would not be a solution that would see the different cars exactly matched everywhere, it may be the case, for instance that the revised DPs had an advantage at a track like this (Daytona) but at a more technical circuit the LMP sight have an edge – Over a season though the intention is to balance.

“And we have excellent facilities to help us to achieve that including access to the Wind Shear wind tunnel, a cutting edge facility that will give us huge assistance in getting the right solution as quickly as possible.

One area of potential adjustment is, of course, the tyres – Is there a decision yet on whether the new headline class will be open on tyre choice or whether a spec tyre will be selected?

“Not yet, we can test them on one tyre for now though as the major aero issues stand alone but the decision on direction shouldn’t take too long now.”