IMSA Sporting Rules released post-Daytona test

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The Roar Before the Rolex 24 test has just concluded from the Daytona International Speedway. We’ll delve into today’s times either later today or tomorrow.

Additionally as the test has ended, IMSA, sanctioning body for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, has just released the 2014 sporting rules package. We’ll be able to explain this in full detail later this week. For now, here’s the release as sent out by IMSA:

International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) officials delivered the 2014 sporting rules package to teams participating in the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship as Roar Before The Rolex 24 testing wrapped up at Daytona International Speedway.

“The final component of the merger between the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is now in place,” said Scot Elkins, IMSA vice president, competition and technical regulations. “Bringing together two series, which operated under markedly different rules, was a mammoth undertaking. We took advantage of the opportunity to closely examine the rules and procedures utilized by GRAND-AM and the previous iteration of IMSA to create a package that includes best practices from both.”

The 2014 IMSA Sporting Rules include many of the regulations and procedures announced last summer. Notable items introduced today include:

Points System/Procedures

  • The TUDOR Championship points system will be identical to the one utilized previously in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, with 35 points for first, 32 for second, 30 for third, 28 for fourth and 26 for fifth. Sixth place is worth 25 points with each subsequent finishing position decreasing by one point.
  • Drivers can be entered to drive a maximum of two cars. Drivers will be eligible for championship points and awards in two different classes from the same race if they complete minimum driving requirements in each and do not exceed the maximum driving time. Drivers entered in two cars in the same class at the same event will only receive points in one of the cars and must declare that car no later than one hour prior to the event’s first official practice session.
  • Drivers must participate in at least one practice, qualifying or warm-up session in every car in which they are nominated. They must complete at least three laps during a scheduled night practice for every event run partly at night in order to drive at night in the race.
  • Any car found out of compliance with the rules may be removed from consideration for prize money and points and other finishers advance accordingly.

Qualifying Procedures

  • Different drivers are eligible to qualify and start the race, similar to the procedure previously used by the ALMS. Starting drivers must be nominated no later than 30 minutes after qualifying ends.
  • Drivers causing a red-flag stoppage during qualifying will lose their fastest timed lap in the session. Drivers involved in incidents that cause qualifying to be abandoned will be placed at the rear of the starting grid.

Race Procedures

  • Cars must remain in position within their starting column until after they cross the starting line after the green flag is displayed. On restarts, overtaking may commence at the display of the green flag.
  • Pits will be closed at the time a full-course caution is announced.
  • If deemed appropriate, the race director shall authorize a pass-around for any car that has its class leader behind it.
  • P and PC cars will be permitted to pit on the first lap after the pits are declared open. Only GTLM and GTD cars are permitted to pit on the subsequent lap. Any car is permitted to pit after the first two class-specific opportunities are concluded.
  • Race control will authorize a Lap Down Wave By for any car behind the safety car that was not on the lead lap at the time of a full-course caution that is ahead of the first car in their class on the lead lap at the time of the full-course caution.
  • The class-specific separation for pit stops and the Lap Down Wave By are not in effect for any safety car period within 15 minutes of a previous green flag – including the race start – or during the final 30 minutes of the race.
  • Cars are not required to take the checkered flag on the race track to be eligible for a finishing position, points or awards.

The 2014 TUDOR Championship opens with the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26.

Schmidt Peterson aiming high with Hinchcliffe, Wickens

Photo: IndyCar
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The new Schmidt Peterson Motorsports duo of James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens expressed a high amount of confidence during Wednesday’s confirmation of Hinchcliffe’s return and Wickens’ signing, as the pair looks to return the Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson co-owned team to prominent status within the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We’re hoping to give Toronto and Ontario and Canadian sports fans in general something to cheer about over the next season,” Hinchcliffe quipped during a teleconference on Wednesday.

Granted, there are likely to be several challenges to overcome, notably for Wickens, who returns to single-seater competition for the first time since 2011, when he was a champion of the Formula Renault 3.5 series and served as test driver for the now defunct Manor Racing (then known as Marussia Virgin Racing).

Having spent every year since then in DTM, where he won a total of six races and finished as high as fourth in the championship (2016), Wickens knows returning to open wheel competition will be an adjustment. However, he explained that the history of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, specifically its Indy Lights history, speaks to their ability to help a driver adapt, and he rates the program they’re putting together very highly.

“I think Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have a fantastic driver development program. They showed that in their multiple Indy Lights championships along the way. I think we will have a strong program in place. I have a feeling that the simulator will be my new best friend,” Wickens said when asked about getting reacquainted with an open-wheel car.

Of course, having an experienced teammate like Hinchcliffe to lean on will undoubtedly help the transition, something Wickens readily admitted.

“I’m very fortunate that I have James as my teammate because he’s so experienced, I can learn off him. Because we already have such a good off-track relationship, I feel like you can just take his word, trust him, kind of move forward with it,” he revealed.

They’ve been teammates before, both in karting where they first met in 2001, and then in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix series in 2007-2008, a series that pitted nations against each other in spec open-wheel cars. Funnily, that A1GP type of vibe returns as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports now has that with its “Team Canada” mantra while all four of Andretti Autosport’s full-season drivers are American.

For Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ background, even if it hasn’t been in the single-seater realm since 2011, was a big selling point in adding him to the team.

“In Robby, we have a proven winner at a very high level. The level of technical expertise that he comes with from his time in DTM is very impressive,” he said of Wickens’ technical background.

Hinchcliffe added that Wickens’ ability to analyze the car and its setup was evidenced in two outings: one at Sebing International Raceway in March, in part of a “ride swap” between the two longtime friends, and a second at Road America, when he subbed on Friday practice for Mikhail Aleshin.

Wickens sampled Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda earlier this year. Photo: IndyCar

Hinchcliffe revealed that Wickens’ feedback to the team and his ability to quickly adapt to the chassis took everyone somewhat by surprise.

“We did our ride swap. He had two hours in the car, hardly anything even resembling a test day, and his performance was pretty impressive. No doubt the time in Road America helped because that really gave us a better sense of his technical feedback, integrated with the team a little bit more. Everybody was happy to work with him on that day,” said Hinchcliffe.

Further still, Hinchcliffe is firm in his belief that the 2018 aero kit and its reduction in aerodynamic downforce will fall right into Wickens’ wheelhouse, based on Hinchcliffe’s own take after sampling Wickens’ DTM Mercedes earlier this year.

“In all honesty, I was saying earlier today, the 2018 car is probably better suited for him than the 2017 car because of the experience he’s had the last handful of series,” Hinchcliffe asserted.

“The (aero kit) was such high downforce, it would be a big change coming out of DTM. But with the loss of downforce that we’ve seen, the car is moving around a little bit more, brake zones, things like that, it won’t be as big a transition I think. Just based on the experience that I got in our ride swap, I think he’s going to adapt very quickly, be comfortable very quickly, and as a result be competitive very quickly. So it’s going to be exciting.”

As for expectations heading into next year, team co-owner Schmidt did not mince words and expects the team’s performance to resemble what they did in 2012, 2013, and 2014, when they won a total of four races (with driver Simon Pagenaud) and finished in the top five in the championship each year.

“We had a stint in ’12, ’13, ’14 where we finished fifth in the points (or better. I think we want to get back to that level of competition,” Schmidt added. “We felt like we were missing things in having two cars with equal funding and equal drivers and equal capabilities. We think this gets back there.”

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