One step forward, two steps back

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What is next for the Daytona Prototypes in TUSC?

Attention all pilots...errr. drivers, there will be no Prototype and Prototype Challenge class testing today.

That was the basic message the teams and drivers of the P and PC class were given upon arrival at Daytona International Speedway this morning.

And you have to applaud the series for making that move.

But one thing is missing from all of this, and that is information.

There is not closed circuit television footage, no network coverage, and only handful of photos of the crash taken by a commercial photographer at the track.

Damage on the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP after a crash
Damage on the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP after a crash

Photo by: Brendan Smith

I sit here scratching my head as to the next plan of attack that the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship staff can take. The only information they will get is from Continental, who will evaluate why the tire failed.

But with so many vital aero modifications made to these Daytona Prototypes, everything from new front splitters to a rear diffuser and dual plane rear wing, I feel that there is a long road ahead in making these cars less “takeoff friendly.”

Richard Westbrook, who was the first to take to the skies yesterday told another news site that he’d “never had an accident like that. I’ve had much lesser accidents that have hurt more so I just feel very, very lucky.”

Westbrook’s right-rear tire went down exiting the tri-oval as he headed to the hard braking zone to enter the infield road course.

He said he was airborne for quite some time, made some contact with the catch fence, and came to rest with the remaining wheels on the ground.

Rear diffuser on the #60 Michael Shank Racing Riley Ford EcoBoost V6
Rear diffuser on the #60 Michael Shank Racing Riley Ford EcoBoost V6

Photo by: Trevor Horn

The second accident saw Joao Barbosa’s car exiting the tri-oval and suffering the same tire failure on his cool down lap. Evident by the damage to their respective cars, Barbosa’s ride was a children’s ride compared to Westbrook’s.

These are the accidents that hurt and kill drivers and spectators and have no place in motor racing. They happen of course because of the incredible speeds and forces acting on these cars, and with safer and safer venues we have been lucky to not have and fatalities on our hands.

But with the season kicking off in about two months, and with both Prototype and GT classes still awaiting some rules from the TUDOR officials, one can only assume this starts to set the series a bit behind for the start of 2014.

I hope they can figure out the exact issue and deal with it in good time, allowing teams to see what their cars will look like before the Roar before the 24 testing.

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About this article
Series TUSC
Article type Commentary
Tags SPORTSCAR, airborne, barbosa, championship, crash, danica, daytona, diffuser, fire, foyt, joao, prototype, richard, splitter, tudor, westbrook

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