The big talking point for the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship season is the introduction of the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class. Much like 2014, where IMSA officials tried in vain to balance the performance of the now retired Daytona Prototypes and the fresh crop of LMP2 cars, the 2017 Prototype class will again be defined by its BoP.
After a brief scare this past week — imsatiming.com was temporarily inaccessible — I decided to archive and share the timing data. I know that I, and many others, appreciate the insight that can be found in the data.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca rewards smooth and committed driving. Without the top speeds of Daytona or the stop-and-go cornering of Long Beach, cars and drivers need to keep their momentum up and maintain a high minimum speed through the corners. On paper, this should play right into the hands of the LMP2-based machinery.
Unfortunately for Wayne Taylor Racing, their second consecutive Long Beach victory has largely been overshadowed by the Mazdas’ return to form and the questionable driving of Porsche’s Fred Makowiecki. Ricky and Jordan Taylor both drove fantastic stints and earned the first win for a Daytona Prototype in 2016. The Mazdas, finishing 4th and 5th, showed that they finally have the pace to race with the DP cars, beating the Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 handily in the process. This fulfills the promise of their new gasoline-fueled engine, just in time for their home race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The old airport runways of Sebring are an entirely different animal than the high-banks of Daytona. Rather than smooth asphalt, the cars were asked to navigate an uneven patchwork of several different surface materials, some portions dating back decades. The track puts intense stress on the car as well as the engineers and drivers tasked with finding a setup that works over the bumps. As such, it is a great opportunity to examine the relative performance of all the cars in a totally new environment and after several Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments from IMSA.