Countdown to GTP at Daytona: Sharing advantages…for now
The cooperation between the 4 LMDh producers competing within the preliminary season of Grand Touring Prototype within the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has been a continuing supply of debate within the run-up to the category’s debut on the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It’s additionally been a fount of pleasure for the producers and for collection officers that the producers and companions are working collectively wherever they’ll to assist reliability with new, extra complicated race vehicles. However with a few producers splitting their vehicles between completely different groups, it’s additionally been a distinct expertise for them as they push ahead within the twin function of supporting the producer, but additionally working to beat the opposite group operating the identical automotive.
As Mike Shank put it, that first assembly of Acura groups at Michelin Raceway Highway Atlanta, two days after his Meyer Shank Racing group beat Wayne Taylor Racing to the ultimate DPi title in a fierce battle, was a tad awkward.
However with each groups operating single Acura ARX-06s in 2023, the identical as Chip Ganassi Racing and Motion Specific Racing splitting Cadillac’s efforts, there must be a sure diploma of cooperation earlier than the duty of beating one another in races turns into the main target, and maybe will proceed past that.
“We’ve had the posh of working with our new partnership (with Andretti Autosport), but additionally with MSR, and that partnership has helped us transfer by means of numerous completely different hurdles that we’ve had, I’d say, during the last six months,” explains Travis Hogue, vice chairman and common supervisor of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport. That group might be operating the No. 10 ARX-06 with Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque for the season, aided by Louis Deletraz and Brendan Hartley for Daytona.
That sentiment is echoed by Hogue’s counterpart at MSR, Justin Harnisfager. Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian has introduced in Colin Braun to companion with returning driver Tom Blomqvist, with the group’s IndyCar Sequence drivers Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud becoming a member of the enjoyable for Daytona the place the group scored victory in 2021. “We’ve labored nicely along with our WTR counterparts, and we’re forwards and backwards with them bodily and in addition through emails and cellphone calls. So there’s numerous preparation that’s received to be executed for the 24 in a standard 12 months, not to mention with a brand-new automotive with brand-new elements.”
Like the 2 Acura groups, Chip Ganassi Racing and Motion Specific might be campaigning a single Cadillac V-LMDh every all through a lot of the season, though CGR may have a second automotive at Daytona. To additional the producer’s efforts, they’ve been sharing as a lot data as they really feel snug.
“It’s positively been a studying expertise for each groups and, fairly truthfully, a little bit of a tradition shift for Chip Ganassi Racing,” says Mike O’Gara, group supervisor for CGR. “We all the time pleasure ourselves on how nicely we talk internally; on the Indy 500 final 12 months, we had 5 race vehicles that have been all able to operating on the entrance. So sharing data is what we do. However we haven’t usually shared data outdoors of this constructing. However I feel it’s gone amazingly nicely thus far, sharing data with not simply Motion Specific, however with our GM powertrain companions, with Dallara, with Michelin…it takes a village. To this point, I feel that the partnership with AXR has gone rather well. We’re determining who is healthier at what issues and we divide and conquer, and hopefully that’ll present.”
The CGR effort for the complete season might be spearheaded by Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande, who took three victories collectively in 2021. Scott Dixon pops into the No. 01 for Daytona, whereas Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook will drive the No. 02 for Daytona.
AXR has been working for the final two seasons to beat its Ganassi Cadillac counterparts. They took the title in 2021, however went winless final season whereas CGR took 4 victories. The vastly skilled sports activities automotive group with Gary Nelson at its head would very very similar to to reverse that development for 2023 with Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims within the No. 31 with Jack Aitken in for the endurance races.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Mike (O’Gara) and his group,” Nelson says. “We’ve, I feel, superior the know-how rather a lot faster, as a result of every check we’ve executed, one group would check one collection of things; we have been organized on who was doing what. Then we might get collectively on the finish of every day, or typically partway by means of the day, and say, ‘We have been having just a little bother with this half, you guys may need to test it in your automotive,’ or, ‘We simply discovered this, this transformation made an enormous distinction. You may need to attempt it.’ We’ve had that forwards and backwards dialogue, and I welcome it very a lot.”
However when the season actually will get all the way down to enterprise in just a few days, will that spirit of cooperation proceed? Will groups proceed to share data when it’s time to compete for intra-manufacturer honors? O’Gara says that with the Rolex 24 possible coming all the way down to reliability, they’ll be huddling up collectively to assist one another survive, however so far as how a lot data might be shared as soon as the lap occasions depend?
“We haven’t had that assembly but,” Nelson declares with a smile.