Let’s take a trip. A trip to one of the newest racing tracks in the good ‘ol USofA. We’re heading to Texas. Located outside of Austin is a track called Circuit of the Americas. Welcome to the penultimate stop for the IMSA/TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, for the Lone Star Le Mans!
With the Texas sun scorching the track with ambient temps around 92+ degrees fahrenheit, qualifying was going to be tougher then normal. And with IMSA rules stating that you need to start the race with three of the tires you qualify on, the question turns into how long do you stay out on track before you degrade the tires too much?
And so the late afternoon qualifying session proceeded with all four classes hitting the track. Those watching the race tomorrow, and those watching qualifying today, might have noticed something a bit different. Cars running waayy WIDE, going beyond the rumble strips and into the runoff area. Why? It has been reported that IMSA couldn’t accurately track the cars across the whole track. So track restrictions were lifted except the apexes of the turns.
What to watch for during tomorrow’s race:
Prototype class had Scott Pruett recording a blistering 1:58.441 after only two laps and grabbing pole. This would be the 2nd pole in the season for the Ford EcoBoost DP team, and Scott’s first pole since Long Beach 2014. Not to be overshadowed was the 2nd place of Michael Shank Racing with Ozz Negri throwing the No. 60 Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 car across the finish line with another blistering time of 1:58.512. I’m glad to see the lone P2 provide some badly needed competition to the rest of the Daytona Prototypes. And before anyone complains, yes, I know that the Mazdas are P2 class machines, but they are still in a development stage and don’t offer much in the way of competition. In fact, the two Mazdas came in BEHIND the top two Prototype Challenge machines.
GTLM. Again, great racing and with a recent BoP tagging the Porsche 911 RSRs with an extra 20kg of weight AND all the teams running on Michelin tires switch back to the “normal” tires, you’re going to see the Corvettes put up an even stronger fight. It appears that the “single stint” tire experiment that Michelin was performing across it’s partners didn’t pan out as well for the Corvettes as it did for the other teams. About 1.6 secs separates the pole sitting No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to the 8th place No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia. Porsche proving they still have what it takes, BMW snipping at Porsche’s heels, Corvettes coming back with renewed vigor and I wouldn’t discount Ferrari or the folks over at Falken Tire Porsche. This will be some great racing!
How to watch:
Easiest thing is to head over to IMSA’s site for all the details on streaming and broadcast times. Race starts promptly at 12:30pm (ET) on Saturday, 9/19/15.
Of course, the ever handy Spotter’s Guide can be downloaded here.
As a sidetone, some of you might be wondering why it’s called the “Lone Star Le Mans”. This weekend is a double header at COTA. Not only is there some great racing happening with IMSA/TUDOR, but WEC is stopping by for their annual race in America. Factory teams from Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Austin Martin and more will be running a six hour race shortly after the IMSA/TUDOR race finishes. Basically, most of the teams that ran at Le Mans will run this weekend as well. If you’re an endurance sports car racing fan, THIS is the weekend for you!!