IMSA: Roar Before the 24 Saturday results

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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IMSA’s Roar Before the 24 continued on Saturday with three test sessions for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: the first taking place in the morning (at 10:50 a.m.), the second in the middle of the afternoon (at 3:30 p.m.), and the final one at night (at 6:30 p.m.).

Saturday’s running saw one manufacturer continue to dominate the Prototype class, and another do the same in GTLM. Meanwhile, three different marques spent time at the top in GT Daytona.

Below are reports about all three classes:

CADILLAC CONTINUES TO LEAD THE WAY IN PROTOTYPE

The Cadillac DPi-V.R remained its dominant self on Saturday, with all three sessions seeing a Cadillac at the top of the field when the checkered flag fell.

In the morning practice (Practice 3 for the weekend), it was Wayne Taylor Racing’s turn at the top, with Jordan Taylor leading the way in the No. 10 Konica Minolta entry. In the mid-afternoon session (Practice 4 for the weekend), Action Express Racing returned to the top, after leading both sessions on Friday, with Felipe Nasr leading the way in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering machine. Eric Curran subsequently kept the No. 31 Cadillac on top in the day’s final session (Practice 5 for the weekend) and the only night session on tap across the three days at the Roar.

Further, the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac ranked in the top five of all three sessions (second in Practice 3, third in Practice 4, and fourth in Practice 5).

All told, it meant Cadillac swept the Saturday sessions, echoing the feat from Friday, even taking the top four spots in Practices 4 and 5.

The only other cars in the top five in any session were Oreca 07 Gibsons. CORE Autosport went third quickest in Practice 3, with their No. 54 Oreca, Jackie Chan DCR JOTA was fifth in Practices 4 and 5 in their No. 78 Oreca, and JDC-Miller Motorsports was fifth quickest in Practice 3 with their No. 99 Oreca.

Also: Team Penske entered the top 10 in the overall time sheets for the weekend, with the No. 6 ARX-05 turning the seventh fastest time of the weekend so far, doing in Practice. The sister No. 7 entry ranks 12th at the end of Day 2, its fastest lap also coming in Practice 4.

FORD TOPS ALL THREE SESSIONS IN GTLM

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing saw one of its Ford GTs lead the way in all three sessions. Scott Dixon topped Practice 3 in the No. 67 machine, with co-driver Ryan Briscoe keeping the No. 67 at the top in Practice 4. Sebastien Bourdais then put the No. 66 entry atop the time charts in Practice 5 (the No. 66 Ford was third in Practice 5, respectively).

The Porsche GT Team was able to nip at the heels of the Ganassi-led squad, however, especially in Practice 5, when Gimmi Brunni put the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in second. The sister No. 911 entry was fourth in that session, with Corvette Racing putting the No. 4 Corvette C7.R in fifth during the final practice of the day.

PORSCHE, ACURA, LEXUS TRADE PLACES ATOP GT DAYTONA

The GT Daytona class saw three different marques at the top of the three Saturday sessions. Practice 3 saw the No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 R from Manthey Racing, in the hands of Matteo Cairoli, lead the way. Practice 4 saw Acura takes its turn up front, with Mario Farnbacher doing so in the NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing. Finally, in Practice 5, 3GT Racing put the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at the front.

Practice 5 ended with GRT Grasser Racing Team in second, with their No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Third went to the No. 15 Lexus from 3GT Racing, followed by the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R from Park Place Motorsports in fourth. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport completed the top five with their No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Of note: the fastest GT Daytona time of the weekend still belongs to GRT Grasser Racing Team, whose best lap of 1:47.104 was set on Friday during Practice 1.

Results from all three of Saturday’s sessions are below, along with combined results from all five completed sessions.

The third and final day of the Roar Before 24 kicks off Sunday, with Practice 6 beginning at 10:45 a.m. followed by qualifying sessions to decide pit box and garage locations.

Practice 3 Results
Practice 4 Results
Practice 5 Results
Combined Practice Results

 

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NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”