IMSA: Class breakdown revealed through 2016

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IMSA has revealed the class structure breakdown for the next three years. The items of note include the extension of the Prototype Challenge class from 2015 to 2016 and, perhaps more noteworthy, the adopting of full FIA-spec GT3 cars for the GT Daytona class from 2016.

GTD currently operates with modified GT3 platforms, and a spec rear wing and splitter, among other closed elements.

Here’s the release from IMSA:

Officials from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today confirmed the structure and specifications for all four of its current TUDOR United SportsCar Championship classes through the 2016 season.

“It is important to all of our stakeholders to have a clear understanding of where the TUDOR Championship is headed from a technical standpoint, which we now have established through 2016,” said IMSA Vice President of Competition and Technical Regulations, Scot Elkins. “This will enable our manufacturers to build race cars with these specifications and timelines in mind, and allow our competitors to make fully informed investment decisions for the future.”

A breakdown of each class is as follows:

Prototype (P)

The Prototype class will continue to consist of Daytona Prototypes, race cars built to LM P2 specifications per rules established by the Automobile Club l’Ouest (ACO), which governs the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DeltaWing through 2016. Last fall, officials from IMSA, the ACO and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) World Endurance Championship (WEC) jointly announced these Prototype regulations would remain in place for three seasons. A new, globally unified Prototype format for all three organizations will be introduced in 2017, with a planned vehicle life of at least three years (through 2019). The Prototype class will continue to feature predominantly professional driver lineups while also allowing pro/am driver combinations.

GT Le Mans (GTLM)

The GTLM class adheres to GTE specifications established by the ACO. New GTE technical specifications will be introduced for the 2016 season, with a planned vehicle life of at least three years (through 2018). The class, which includes factory-backed teams from many of the most iconic automotive brands in the world, will continue to feature professional driver lineups while continuing to allow pro/am driver combinations.

Prototype Challenge (PC)

The Prototype Challenge class will maintain its current format through 2016, with every team using ORECA FLM09 chassis and 6.2-liter Chevrolet engines. Driver lineups will continue to require a mix of professional and amateur drivers.  Beyond 2016, the class will be further evaluated once the vehicle design, performance levels and cost is finalized for LMP3 and the new Prototype referenced above

GT Daytona (GTD)

The GT Daytona class will utilize its current race cars through 2015. In 2016, the class will adopt full FIA GT3 specifications for all of its cars. Traction control, Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and the full FIA GT3 aerodynamic specification will be allowed beginning in 2016. An Adjustment of Performance process will be managed through restrictors and weight. Driver lineups in GTD will continue to require a mix of professional and amateur drivers.

Bourdais hopes last year’s crash turns into Indy 500 Cinderella story on Sunday

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Sebastien Bourdais has relived his May 20, 2017 crash during Indianapolis 500 qualifying over and over in his mind, day after day, week after week and month after month.

He would think of the worst crash of his open-wheel racing career at least once — if not several times — a day, particularly when he’d experience a slight twinge of pain.

“I think about it every day,” Bourdais told MotorSportsTalk. “Even though I’m functionally 100 percent now, it’s still very rare that during the day that there’s not a little pinch or something that reminds me of what happened.”

But this past weekend while qualifying for this year’s 500, one year later, the French driver said he was finally able to work past the mental roadblock that just would not leave his mind.

The solution was simple: complete the task he wasn’t able to do so last year, namely, qualifying for the race – and qualifying well.

Bourdais will start fifth in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, in the middle of Row 2.

“(Last year’s crash is) still in my mind,” Bourdais said. “But I think the biggest hurdle, at least mentally, was qualifying last weekend, putting yourself back in the same set of circumstances, going back on the line there.

“It felt a little bit the same, chances of rain, some rain, delays, you get back in line, conditions change, everything gets harder because it gets hotter, but that’s the biggest hurdle to overcome. After that, it’s back to business.”

Bourdais has already won once in 2018 – the season-opening race in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.

It helped jump start him to a strong overall run in the first five races of the season, including a fourth-place showing two weeks ago at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis, coupled with entering the 500 third in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

Now, he wants to win the biggest race of his career. If he does so, he’ll feel as if he finally and completely has come full circle from last year’s devastating wreck that shattered his pelvis, going head-on into the Turn 2 wall at a reported 228 mph.

“Well, it’s the Holy Grail of IndyCar, it doesn’t really get any bigger than that,” Bourdais said of the 500. “It’s the biggest achievement that you can accomplish in IndyCar.

“I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else: we all want to win it pretty bad, but I’m sure after what happened after last year, it’d be a Cinderella story.”

But there’s a caveat to Bourdais writing that story: “There’s 32 other drivers that want to accomplish the same thing, and it’s a one day event. We’ll give it our best shot … you can only give your very best and see what happens on that given day.”

Bourdais has a lot going for him heading into Sunday. First off, he’ll start from the highest qualifying position he’s ever had in what will be the seventh Indy 500 of the 39-year-old’s racing career.

Second, his confidence and comfort level are higher than they’ve ever been coming into the annual classic at the 2.5-mile Brickyard oval.

Third, he’s forgiven himself – not IMS – for what happened last year. He has no ill feeling towards the racetrack, nor does he seek revenge. If he were to start thinking that way, it would serve no positive purpose.

“No. I’m not really that way,” he said when asked if he wants revenge over the racetrack. “The track didn’t beat me up, I beat myself.

“The bottom line is there were a couple of reasons why it happened, but I got more comfortable and more confident and confidence and comfort at some point just bite you at Indy.

“You just do your laps, you get into such a rhythm and the week had gone perfectly with an awesome car and there was not a doubt in my mind it was going to stick (going into Turn 2), and that’s when it happened – and I paid the price.”

So, Bourdais is simply going to go out and race, again, hoping to complete what he started last year before being so painfully derailed.

His best finish to date in the 500 has been seventh (2014). He just needs for his Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser – Sullivan Honda to finish six places higher on Sunday.

And if he does, his move to Dale Coyne Racing last year – he’s competed in 13 of 23 races with two wins, 3 podiums and one pole – would only serve to make what already has proven to be a great move into a potentially brilliant move.

Because, yes, Bourdais isn’t just thinking Indy 500 win, he’s also thinking of a potential championship this season.

“I sure hope so,” Bourdais said when asked if his team’s success will continue. “I like to say it’s (the success that the Coyne camp has had since he came there) a little bit of my baby, bringing in Craig (engineer Craig Hampson) and Olivier (race engineer Olivier Boisson) and reinforcing the existing crew.”

Bourdais is no stranger to winning championships. He won four straight combined titles in CART and the Champ Car World Series from 2004 through 2007 (he also won 28 races in that four-year span).

“Obviously, it’s one thing to get into a winning team and basically meet expectations,” Bourdais said. “It’s another thing to try and build something and change the status of the underdog and turn him into a contender week in and week out.

“We got a glimpse of that last year, and this year, we’ve been competitive every weekend so far, and that’s a great feeling. Once you’re able to be competitive on street course, road courses, short ovals and superspeedways, then you can start saying and thinking championship.”

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