Detroit: Risi's Rick Mayer - The inside track

The Inside Track Rick Mayer The Track Detroit is a 2.1-mile street course on Belle Isle. It's a semi-permanent street course; if there is such a thing. The surface varies from concrete to asphalt. Some of the concrete is grooved in the ...

The Inside Track
Rick Mayer

The Track

Detroit is a 2.1-mile street course on Belle Isle. It's a semi-permanent street course; if there is such a thing. The surface varies from concrete to asphalt. Some of the concrete is grooved in the direction of travel and will deliver high grip, and some looks like normal concrete slabs, with a brushed surface. The concrete will gain grip as cars put down rubber. The asphalt looks old and weathered; the asphalt parts are mostly high speed corners.

I'm sure the grip will vary by corner and somewhat with conditions. The braking zone, off the backstraight, is shaded by trees and thus will have different grip to the rest of the track when it's sunny. The surface is bumpy but less than Houston and more then Long Beach. We expect a rather modest top speed here, about 235-240 Kph (about 150 mph); the straights are short. The curbing, for most of the track, is pretty aggressive and probably can't be used to any advantage. T8 (Turn 8) has some temporary entrance curbs that may be usable. The track has some high-speed corners reminiscent of St. Pete and one change of direction section at T4-6. There isn't much "point and squirt"; it's a flowing course. The layout is more of a road course with walls then a typical street course.

The Setup

The general setup will be on the soft side with dampers playing a big part. There's a fine line between being soft (dampers, springs and anti- roll bars) where the wheels move up into the wheel well when hitting bumps, so not to transmit upsetting loads to the car, and having the car too soft, where you loose platform stability and the car just "wailers" around.

There are several high speed corners that will require good platform support. The car will traverse diagonally across some of the concrete seams where the wheels will hit bumps independently; single wheel bump as opposed to two wheel bumps. These sections will be improved with softer anti-roll bars to allow the wheels to work independently; decoupled across the axle. Braking will be important as there are some bumpy braking areas; some of these areas are change of surface; asphalt to/from concrete. Softer anti-roll bars will help here. The drivers will have to work out the best line through these areas as you can't setup for all the variations.

The Race

Always tricky at the start with walls on the course. The front running GT2s will have an advantage as the GT1s will give a forward gap. Qualifying on pole is more important at the street courses as passing will be difficult. The yellows will dictate fuel strategy; we can go just over an hour on fuel. The pickup on restarts is really bad at this type of circuit; this was a massive issue at St. Pete. The team has been at the circuit since Monday and we've been around the track several times. It certainly looks like a Ferrari track to us.

-credit: risi/alms

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Series ALMS