Rolex 24 winners seek ideal “trade-off” over Sebring bumps

Riley Motorsports’ LMP3 class winners from the Rolex 24 Hours expect a typically torrid ride in the Sebring 12 Hours, but believe testing provided the setup direction they need to shine again.

Rolex 24 winners seek ideal “trade-off” over Sebring bumps
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The 74 Ranch Motorsports-backed Ligier-Nissan, driven by Gar Robinson, Scott Andrews, Spencer Pigot and Oliver Askew, won by three laps when LMP3 took its opening bow as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Daytona in January.

Now Andrews, Pigot and Robinson believe the Riley Motorsports team has made further strides to ensure the car is equally at home on the notoriously bumpy 3.74-mile Sebring Raceway.

Said Robinson: “Sebring is bumpy the whole way around, but we put a couple of different setups on it in testing and found a direction that we really liked, to make the car last, and to make us last.

Fellow fulltimer Andrews explained the difficulty of finding the right compromise.

“An LMP3 car has a flat underside so a lot of downforce comes from the diffuser and the front dive planes,” said the 30-year-old Australian. “But Sebring is always a very specific setup and to get your car in the window there, to have really good ride control and be soft enough [for the bumps] but be low enough to get the downforce, is always a trade off.

“But there’s a trade-off at any track. For example, at Daytona there’s a trade-off in how much wing you take away without completely losing the car and still having good drive off the slow-speed stuff. So there’s always a compromise at the track as to what works best. It is difficult to get it right [at Sebring] but when you do get it right, it drives like any other track.”

Pigot is the enduro third man on the team this weekend, but doesn’t know if he’s going to be invited back for the Watkins Glen 6 Hours and/or Petit Le Mans, so is aiming for a 100 percent winning record in an LMP3 car this weekend. The 27-year-old, who lived for many years in Florida and who is still aiming to return to IndyCar, played down the difficulties of Sebring, given his vast experience there.

“I’ve kinda grown up racing and driving at Sebring, the whole track and short track, everything from Skip Barber cars to IndyCars, the DPi and now the LMP3 and GT cars. So… we know what we’re getting into when we go to Sebring. Honestly I don’t think it’s gotten any worse over the years.

“It’s always bumpy, and in a P3 car, compared with Daytona it’s a bit bumpier but we can run a lot more downforce at Sebring so that helps as well. Nothing that really shocks me going back to Sebring.

“Over the years I’ve driven at a lot of different street courses that are a good match for Sebring in terms of bumpiness. So as long as the car’s compliant enough, there shouldn’t be any issues.”

Primary opposition is expected to come from not only their Riley Motorsports teammates Jim Cox, Dylan Murry and Jeroen Bleekemolen, but also CORE autosport’s entry which includes Colin Braun in the lineup, and Sean Creech Motorsport, for whom former IMSA Prototype champion Joao Barbosa drives.

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