A new dawn for North American Sportscar Racing.
Houston - This week sees a new dawn for North American sportscar racing, but the one area in the new Tudor United Sportscar Championship which remains largely untouched from the past few years is the GT category, now to be known as GTLM.
Risi Competizione’ s Ferrari 458 Italia will be one of the 12 entries in GTLM, lining up on the grid alongside the BMWs, Corvettes, Porsches and Vipers against which is has raced before.
The cars will look the same, many of the drivers’ names will be familiar including Risi’s Matteo Malucelli and Giancarlo Fisichella, the latter returning to the team for the first time since Daytona in 2012, but there are a number of new rules and regulations which deserve highlighting.
The cars: Although not a new concept, the Balance of Performance announced for the Rolex 24 at Daytona means that some of the cars will perform slightly differently to those that either tested at Daytona International Speedway in November or who attended the recent Roar before the 24.
The Ferrari F458s, both Risi Comp’s and Krohn Racing’s, have received a weight break of 15kg and will now race at a minimum of 1230kg. Like the Porsches in the class, the Prancing Horses will also benefit from a slight increase in power with a larger (40.6mm) air restrictor for Daytona – the same size as used at the end of the 2013 ALMS season.
Pro cars/classes (Prototype, GTLM) will carry red number plates, and amateur cars/classes (PC, GTD) carry blue plates. All cars will run with an LED lights positioning system which will show their overall position in the race.
The tires: The GTLM category is the only Tudor Championship class where open tire competition is allowed. Risi continues with its long-time partner, Michelin.
The races: GTLM cars will race at 11 of the 13 events on the 2014 calendar and these include a 24-hour, 12-hour, 6-hour and 10-hour races, all of which form the North American Endurance Championship – a series within the main Tudor United Sportscar Championship. The season begins with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, goes onto the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and ends with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
Points: The amount of points differs greatly from the American Le Mans Series and points are awarded to everyone in the race. From 1st to 10th they are: 35, 32, 30, 28, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21.
Pit stops: Grand-Am's pit stop procedure of allowing refueling and tire changing to take place simultaneously has been adopted. Engines can also remain running during pit stops which is in contrast to ALMS/ACO regulations. This means that slick pit work and speedy driver changes will be even more vital – getting out of the pits before rivals could make all the difference to a race result.
Debris yellows: If the race director judges that the track must be cleared of debris, but that the race requires minimal disruption, a debris yellow will be called. The yellow flags will be shown, but the pits will not be opened. The safety vehicles will be deployed to clear whatever needs to be cleared, and the race will return to green much faster than in the past.
Caution periods and Wave By rules: There are new wave by rules for 2014 which make it easier to get a lap back if time has been lost for whatever reason.