IMSA News Roundup: March 2, 2016
Notebook Items Include Upgrades To PC Class For Sebring; Japanese Driver Joins Mazda
Prototype Team; Patience Pays Off For Bodymotion Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 2, 2016) – Two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships teams successfully tested upgrades for the Prototype Challenge (PC) class that will take effect at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday, March 19.
CORE autosport and JDC/Miller Motorsports tested the new improvements in the class, which include:
· A new electronics package, consisting of a new engine control unit (ECU); new gearbox control unit (GCU); new power distribution unit (PDU); and a new chassis loom
· New telemetry
· Traction control
· A new dash panel and display
· A new engine configuration, which is 25 pounds lighter with a lighter crank, rods and pistons to allow for better weight distribution while not reducing the overall minimum weight of the car
“We worked through the new parts and pieces during the test,” said Colin Braun, defending two-time PC champ with Jon Bennett co-driving the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 for CORE autosport. “We were doing our part to help out for the good of the series and class. We weren’t able to get through our own car setup, working through these new parts and working to get all the electronics working. But obviously we had good pace and have a good race car – and I couldn’t expect anything less from the guys on our team.”
All PC teams have the update kits, and will be allowed to test at Sebring during the promoter test day on Tuesday of race week. The goals for the upgrades were to have a more reliable and nicer car to drive, which will be eligible to compete in the WeatherTech Championship through the 2017 season.
Japanese Driver Joins Mazda Prototype Team For Sebring
Keiko Ihara of Tokyo will join the Mazda Prototype team for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. She will team with drivers Tom Long, Joel Miller and Ben Devlin in the No. 70 car.
Ihara, 42, has a long history in motorsports, including being the first Asian woman to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also the first woman to earn a podium finish in a World Endurance Championship (WEC) event, co-driving with Gustavo Yacaman and Alex Brundle to finish third at the 6 Hours of Fuji in 2014.
Ihara has competed at Le Mans three times, with a best finish of 14th overall in 2014. She has raced in a diverse number of series, including the British and French Formula 3 categories and a number of GT and Prototype categories around the world.
Ihara completed a private test session with the Mazda Prototype team in December at tPalm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., and has also spent time with the Prototype “driver in the loop” simulator at Multimatic Motorsports in Ontario, Canada.
"We are pleased to add Keiko to our line-up in the Mazda Prototypes for Sebring,” said John Doonan, director, Mazda Motorsports North America. “Sebring is a grueling race and with Keiko's experience at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, she can bring good insights to the team. The entire Mazda Motorsports team has confidence that we can compete up front there. With 13 class victories at Sebring over the years, all of us are focused on bringing Mazda our first overall victory there.”
Patience Pays Off For Bodymotion Racing At Sebring Test
While most of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge teams packed up early on the second and final day of the February Test at Sebring International Raceway due to rainy conditions, Bodymotion Racing decided to wait out the deluge despite the threatening forecast for the remainder of Wednesday afternoon.
Their patience paid off. The rain let off somewhat, enabling new team drivers Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels to run for one hour at the end of the day in the new No. 12 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“We were very thankful that the skies finally gave us a break,” said team manager Geoff Abel. “While we didn’t get any dry track, it was just about the best conditions we’d seen except for Tuesday’s first session. We wanted to put some laps on the car. That was the first time Cameron was able to drive it, and it also allowed us to get additional feedback from Trent, who was quite pleased with the car in the conditions we were dealt.”
The team’s only prior test with the new Porsche was at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 in January, and they had made many changes since then.
“We had some new car bugs that we were trying to sort out, trying to get all of the systems online,” Abel said. “We definitely learned a lot in that extra hour, and now we’re looking forward to getting back to Sebring.”
Joao Barbosa, Driver of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, who attended the Sebring test but did not drive as he recovers from a fractured wrist suffered in a fall at home: "It's certainly no fun being at the track and not being able to drive our Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. The car has been fast for most of the test and Filipe (Albuquerque) and Christian (Fittipaldi) have been able to get in quite a few laps and provide the team with some good data to help us prepare for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours in a few weeks. The perspective has not changed for me much not being in the car. We usually get plenty of time to sit on the box during a test and watch what the other drivers are doing. I just know that it's not as much fun as getting to drive."