IMSA Random Observations From Road America

[Pete Gorski Photo]

[Pete Gorski Photo]

by Pete Gorski

• The WeatherTech Championship features five classes, although for the purposes of this factoid, we’re going to talk about only four since the cars in GTD are identical; the distinction is the driver. During qualifying, the GTD class was entering the speed trap ahead of turn 5 in the high 150s, most around 158mph. LMP3 arrived only a few ticks faster, around 161mph. LMP2 produced a big jump, hitting 171mph consistently. As expected, the top DPi class carried the most speed into the trap, peaking at around 179mph.

• But this isn’t the NHRA, so that speed, while interesting and informative (closing rate anybody?), doesn’t tell the whole story. As long as you get a clean run out of turn 3, you can expect to hit those speeds. To see the real difference in classes, hang out inside turn 7 and watch how quickly the DPis and LMP2 get from turn 6 to turn 7, and how they don’t lift for the turn at all.

• But everybody, regardless of class, was taking a different line through turn 3 Sunday morning. It wasn’t quite rain in turn 3 early in the race, but it wasn’t really dry either. We’ve all heard commenters on TV talking about positioning the car off the racing line when the track is wet, and everybody was doing just that, rolling through gingerly and much closer to the outer curbing than if the track was dry.

• Brian Herta Autosport fielded six Hyundais in the Michelin Pilot series race Saturday — five Elantras and one Veloster. Watching the train of Hyundai-blue Elantras circulate lap after lap nose-to-tail was entertaining enough, but what was interesting was the squeak-toy sound several of them made as they entered various turns. This was apparently the traction control system intervening.

• While it did “rain” on the WeatherTech Championship cars, the support series seemed to get the worst of the weather on Sunday. The Porsche Carrera Cup race rolled off onto a fully wet surface Sunday morning, and you really wanted to be out front in that large field. Watching from turn 1 on lap one, the spray from the 911s was enough to obscure the flagstand as the field blasted down the straight. Within a few laps they dried the track enough that visibility returned to normal. The Lamborghini Trofeo drivers caught the tail end of the weather on Sunday, with the rain falling (unfortunately) mid-session, resulting in more than a few expensive spins as drivers struggled with the surprise lack of grip.

• The single-make series may all sound the same within their groups (the Lamborghinis produce a bit more of a mechanical cammy zing and low rumble than the Porsches, not that both don’t sound great when a full field streaks past your viewing position), but the homogeneity does not extend to liveries. The Lamborghini drivers have a slight advantage in exotic and/or funky paint schemes — prior to the weekend, who else had heard the phrase “Sparkle Farts” before? If your hand is raised, you must have kids.

• Not exactly a hot take, but with apologies to the NASCAR faithful, IMSA, especially the Michelin Pilot series, is the home of stock car racing. While obviously racecars, they are closer in appearance and underpinnings than anything that races under the category of “stock car”.

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