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Petit Le Mans Top Five

October 8, 2016
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Chevrolet Claimed its Fifth Daytona Prototype Engine Manufacturer Championship

The Action Express duo of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran helped Chevrolet claim their fifth engine manufacturer title in as many years, along with Wayne Taylor Racing and Visit Florida Racing.

Beginning in 2012, the Corvette DP program has competed in 56 events across Grand-Am Road Racing and IMSA competition, winning 36 times. The most dominant venues for the Corvette DP were the Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit and Watkins Glen International where the marque has won every event it’s entered in, a five for five effort. In addition to the 64.3 percent winning mark, the bow-tie earned 28 poles and has podiumed 100 times since joining prototype competition.

The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona will mark a new era in prototype competition with the newly-designed Daytona Prototype international machinery. Rumors speculate whether GM will use the same naturally aspirated V8 engine found in the current spec prototype racer for next year’s Cadillac-branded DPi.

 

Photo: Corvette Racing

Photo: Corvette Racing

Four Daytona Prototypes Competed in their Final Race

Petit Le Mans was the end of the road for the hearty Daytona Prototype with four different entries still sporting the car. Action Express racing won their third WeatherTech Championship sporting two Chevrolet Corvette DP’s with Coyote-built chassis – the same choice for Visit Florida Racing. Wayne Taylor Racing fielded a car designed by Dallara and is expected to announce a continuation of the relationship in the coming months with a GM-powered Dallara Daytona Prototype international.

The design goes back to 2003, when FABCAR Engineering, Doran Racing, Picchio Racing Cars, and Multimatic Motorsports all debuted their variants on the tube-framed prototype formula, which led to fields of 30 cars at Daytona by 2006.

A design that has widely been regarded as outdated by the fanbase, the DP is one of the reasons why sports car racing in the United States remains strong today. Michael Shank credits the DP for much of the success of his racing business. After an attempt to make a run in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Shank made the switch to sports cars in 2007 and is now one of the fan-favorite teams in prototype racing.

Next year marks the debut of the DPi, featuring manufacture-specific bodywork mounted to FIA LMP2-spec chassis from OnRoak, Multimatic, Oreca, and Dallara. The name lives on in more than just spirit as the same principals that proved the success of the DP are being implemented in the next generation of prototype racer.

 

Michael Shank Racing Overcame Three Major Challenges to Win at Road Atlanta

Michael Shank Racing’s John Pew, Ozz Negri Jr, and Olivier Pla piloted their Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 to the top spot, and remained there most of the race; leading 236 of 412 laps. The overall win did not come without challenges.

The first of three major challenges revealed itself early as an issue with the left rear wheel hub. It was discovered during the first pit stop and was present throughout the race. Mystery surrounded the issue as Michael Shank refused to make comment on the issue during an in-race interview. Pit stop time suffered due to extra time taken to change the tire, but the team was able to prevail despite the difficulty.

Charging hard to get back on the lead lap after John Pew’s second-hour stint, Negri pushed a little too hard into Turn 10, going off track and bouncing through the grass. The Ligier escaped injury and continued on in the race.

The third and final challenge for the MSR crew was a late-race spin by Pla from the lead. Pla was able to avoid contact with the wall and other competitors, ensuring the car continued without any major damage. Fortunately for the team, Pla had such a lead at the point of the mistake that he was able to continue on to the win.

 

Two results were taken away after the checkered flag.

Both Magnus Racing and Park Place Motorsports were found to be in violation of the minimum drive time rule for the Pro-Am GT Daytona class.

Though the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 was the first to cross the finish line in class, they were immediately disqualified after it was found that declared paired driver and team owner, John Potter had not completed his minimum time of three hours of the 10-hour event.

Earlier in the race, the team elected to keep Pro driver, Andy Lally, in the car with the logic that silver driver, Marco Seefried, would count towards the team’s Amateur drive time. Potter’s individual result would be forfeit, but the team would still fight for the NAEC championship and class win. The rule, changed after the Bill Sweedler earned a result last year after completing only one lap, requires the regular-season amateur driver to complete the minimum drive time of three hours in order to be scored at the end of the race. The interpretation of the rule was known by other teams as Riley Motorsport’s Jeroen Bleekemolen mentioned he knew Magnus Racing had an issue.

The announcement comes after the team was disqualified for a ride height infringement at Virginia International Raceway, as well. It’s said that the team is looking very seriously at the future with Sportscar365 reporting that a return to the WeatherTech Championship is unlikely

The same ruling affected Park Place Motorsports, who’s second place in class was removed after post-race review. The infraction gave the Tequila Patron NAEC in GTD to Scuderia Corse.

 

One More Race for the DetlaWing

Announced just before this year’s Petit Le Mans, the DeltaWing will race one more time at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Don Panoz revealed the plans at a celebration of 20 years of sports car racing at the Panoz Museum at Chateau Elan.

The DeltaWing debuted as an open-top Garage 56 entry at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans and competed later that year at Road Atlanta. Its first regular season of competition was in 2013 in the American Le Mans Series LMP1 class, albeit not competing at the street circuits of Long Beach and Baltimore. The coupe version of the car was entered at Circuit of the Americas later that year. The car then competed in the newly formed WeatherTech Championship in 2014 through 2016.

The Ben Bowlby-designed machine is expected to race in the top Prototype class of IMSA WeatherTech Championship competition with the drivers yet to be announced. The announcement was unexpected as new regulations come into effect next year with IMSA’s DPi platform moving forward.

As a mechanical engineer, Dusty’s passion is for sports cars and endurance racing. In his opinion, there’s nothing better than a race car closely based on a model that you can go out and buy from the manufacturer showroom. He’s very particular about his writing utensils and appreciates a great, cruelty free pomade.

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