Prototype cat & mouse

July 10, 2014

Prototype cat & mouse

July 10, 2014

prototype_7_9_14Fans may be in for an exciting game of cat and mouse here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).

Recent lap times show that the IMSA technical group has largely succeeded in finding a combination to equate the performance of the former GRAND AM Daytona Prototype (DP) cars with the former American Le Mans Series P2 entries as the two are merged in the new 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

prototype_7_9_14aThrough the first six races of the TUDOR Championship, five different cars from four different manufacturers have set the fastest lap of the race. The Corvette DP of Action Express (Daytona), the Honda P2 of Extreme Speed Motorsports (Sebring), the Michael Shank DP EcoBoost Ford (Long Beach), the Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP (Detroit) and the P2 Oak Racing Nissan team (Monterey and Watkins Glen) have each set fastest race laps.

However, as may be expected in the early days of a major change, there is still a catch. After the first six races of the TUDOR Championship, the DPs have claimed five victories to a single win for the P2s.

That is where the game of cat and mouse begins. The most recent example played out in the final laps at Watkins Glen where the Spirit of Daytona overpowered the race leading Oak Nissan on a late restart to claim the win by 0.87 seconds.

“The cars get their lap times in different ways,” said the sole P2 winner to date, Johannes van Overbeek, who co-drives an Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda with Patron exec Ed Brown. “Our P2 cars have more downforce, so we have the advantage in high speed corners. The DPs have more power and more torque on acceleration and straightaways. It is pretty tough to performance balance that,” said van Overbeek.

Still, van Overbeek sees a window of P2 opportunity here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

prototype_7_9_14bThe California ace expects that the layout at CTMP will see the two groups demonstrating their opposing strengths. The P2s from Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda, Oak Racing Nissan and Mazda SkyActive will likely have the cornering speed advantage from Turn 1 around through Moss Corner (Turn 5). “From the exit of Turn 5 the DPs will likely have the advantage all the way to Turn 9,” said van Overbeek.

If the Corvette DPs from Action Express, Wayne Taylor Racing or Spirit of Daytona Racing or the Ford Ecoboost-powered Chip Ganassi Racing and Michael Shank Racing cars get by the P2s on the straightaway, “it will be tough for us to get them back before start/finish. Their biggest advantage is on the straights and in traffic,” said van Overbeek.

Of course, if a P2 car is able open up a big enough gap to survive the straightaway losses, it will be game on as the P2 car tries to further extend the gap through the first five corners. The best opportunity may be in the second half of a long green flag run as the P2 cars appear able to better maintain consistent lap times.

“This is one of my favorite tracks. I’ve always done well here and the P2 cars have more experience than the DPs here, so maybe Ed and I, or our teammates Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel can put another win together,” said van Overbeek.

“We had a perfect race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said van Overbeek. “The car was good right away. Ed did a great opening stint. The pit stops were great. It was one of those races where everything just went right. It was especially nice since that is my home race and a lot of family and friends were there,” said van Overbeek.

Perhaps another perfect race is in order, or maybe an extended game of cat and mouse.

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