Monday, November 04, 2013

DP-LMP2 Balance of Performance Issues

I just got caught up with last week's Midweek Motorsports show on which there was lengthy discussion on the draft TUSC rules and the challenges to both the organizers and the teams of reconciling the performance gap between the Daytona Prototypes and ALMS LMP2 and the uncertainties that the teams have in their choice of car for 2014. The commentators presented this situation as the only alternative to just taking 2014 off for the series to do testing and returning in 2015 with obvious negative consequences of shutting down the series for a year.

I think there is another alternative that may have been discussed in the past but could still allow teams and organizers to test and learn while racing in 2014 while not getting stuck with racing a chassis that will never be able to win a race: keep LMP2 and DP as separate categories for 2014 with an aim to merge them (or do something entirely different) in 2015. LMP2 would remain ACO compliant and teams that have these chassis already, could continue to run them. The current DP teams would incorporate many of the new rules to improve performance, but would remain as a separate class. This would allow real world testing of the rule changes, while not forcing the current DP teams to either switch to LMP2 or compete against LMP2 with a slower car, at least for a season. Then, in 2015 everyone--organizers and teams--can make a more informed decision about the best way forward for LMP2 and DP.

It seems to me that, either way, DP will be phased out over the next few years, unless there is a separate class or series created for it because a DP just isn't an LMP2.


Paul said...

In order to keep GTLM and LMPC(which some don't see value in keeping) you need to maintain this years ALMS class separation which requires DP to be as fast as P2 anyway.

Left in the current configuration, at some tracks the GTLM class will be faster than DP and at most tracks LMPC will be faster than DP. Slowing LMPC down would be simple (though they've been slowed significantly already) and slowing GTLM down is off the table because those factory cars need to stay ACO compliant since they do actually race at Le Mans.

Also compared to the days of Porsche and Acura P2 has already been slowed down a lot.

The only way is to speed up DP and the owners will whine because it's expensive, or because they aren't winning, or because they can't have watch sponsors, or because they don't want to race in Canada and JC France isn't allowed to cross the border.

Mike Hedlund has another interesting issue with the new series in the GTD class. Having to replace his GTC Porsche with a new more expensive one that is slower.

Vaquero said...

A fourth alternative could be to run DP and GTD (including the slowest version of the 458 that Ferrari sells) in a separate series (perhaps on Saturday with the various LM classes running on Sunday). The new DP/GTD series could be called something like "Gran-American".

Vaquero said...

Alternative 5 would be to put DP cars into GTLM, since DP cars aren't really downforce cars in the way that prototype cars are anyway.

Paul said...

It doesn't matter, team owners will be complaining about BOP after Daytona whether it is all DPs or P2 and DP or all P2s. It happens every year, the series has all the cards here since the fields will be full no matter what. A new US only prototype formula will probably start in 2016 and if the relationship continues with the ACO those cars will be eligible for Le Mans in some form.

Though if the Gran American cars run the Daytona 24 and the other cars run Sebring and so on.. they may be on to something.

The ultimate loser is the fans, 90% of sports car fans followed both series and now they have half as many races to watch. Same thing happened with Champ Car/IRL.

Vaquero said...

I was being a little facetious about the fourth alternative, implying that the merger be undone because it makes more sense than trying to mush different spec cars into one class.

2015 might be ripe for starting a new budget sports car race series. It could have a limited ~8 race schedule, generally shorter races (3 hours, maybe one 6 hour race), and cost-capped cars such as LMPC, GTC and maybe LMP2 or GTE-am with a schedule break for Le Mans.

This could allow teams that want to race in the U.S. on a more limited budget an option for competing for a championship. Smaller venues, such as Lime Rock could also be brought back.