DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Cadillacs roar, while Porsches and BMWs scream. Acura sounds like an Indy car, and just for fun, turn your back on the track and listen carefully to the car whizzing by at Daytona International Speedway in the new era of IMSA sports car racing.
The top prototype has switched to a hybrid engine this year, making IMSA the first North American racing series to receive a technology upgrade. It’s the automakers who want to move to hybrids so their racing programs mirror the direction most road cars are headed.
“We are transitioning or transitioning to an electric world,” said Andreas Roos, head of BMW M Motorsport. matches.”
The cars made their debut at the two-hour Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on Saturday, dubbed a “symphony of sounds” thanks to the new engines. The hybrid system combines a conventional internal combustion engine with Bosch’s electric motor generator, an energy recovery system that includes batteries and an Xtrac transmission.
One of the major concerns entering this new era is that hybrid technology will take away the roar that is part of motorsport’s allure. But instead, GTP’s four manufacturers – twice as many as last year – made engines with distinctive sounds. BMW and Porsche have both moved up the ranks to be part of the effort, while Lamborghini has announced plans to enter the series.
“One thing I like about hybrid systems compared to strictly (electric) systems is that we still have a good sound, which I think is very important. They all sound great, like an orchestra playing there, said Jim France, chairman of NASCAR, which also owns IMSA. “I think the formula we have is going to be very important for motorsport.”
The new rules package also enables IMSA’s top GTP class to qualify for the 24 Hours of Le Mans as early as this year. Acura and BMW have said they won’t be ready for this year’s Le Mans.
These changes also drew Roger Penske back into motorsports. Rahal Letterman Lanigan took his BMW project to the top IMSA class, and Michael Andretti competed with Wayne Taylor Racing last month Cooperation, put Andretti Motorsport on the track.
Thrilling Daytona officials are predicting the 61st edition of North America’s most prestigious enduro race will welcome the largest crowds in at least a decade.
But making a Saturday debut has been a challenge, as manufacturers have struggled with supply chain crises and compressed timelines for rolling out brand-new programs.
“It’s a tall order,” said Mike O’Gara, director of operations for Chip Ganassi Racing’s two-vehicle Cadillac program. “Over the 30-year history of Chip Ganassi Racing, we have had the privilege of being involved in many different vehicle launches. This is by far the most intense, complex and, honestly, the most exciting for the company. We’ve been The timeline is difficult with supply chain issues, trying to get the car enough miles to be ready, and the complexity of the car with the hybrid system and other control systems.”
Teams have 18 months to build their cars and engines from the time the rules pack is drawn up, but only 17 weeks from the end of last season to complete their entries for the biggest race of the IMSA season.
Porsche project teamed up with Roger Penske to help him return to sports car racing and have a chance at Le Mans, Early tests were performed on a single-source hybrid system.
“Everything is new. So that brings new challenges—you need enough parts to put together a reasonable number of race cars at a reasonable quality,” said David Salters, Honda’s president of performance development. “When every single component is new, the effort is really daunting. But that’s why we do it. That’s why we torture ourselves, and that’s why we love it.
“The simple thing would have been to lift (last year’s) engine and plug it in, but that’s not why we did it. We just started with a blank slate and said, ‘What do we need to make the best car possible? ‘”
Now that the cars have arrived at Daytona and are ready to race, there is a lot of concern about their durability in the 24-hour race. With prototypes unable to complete the race, many second-tier LMP2 teams believed they had a chance of winning the championship.
Meyer Shank Racing, the defending champion and IMSA champion, started from pole but was so concerned about the Acura’s durability throughout the race that they skipped Friday night’s final practice. The MSR lineup includes four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who has won two consecutive Rolex 24s.
It was previously reported that the two Acura programs, Shank and Andretti/Taylor, have yet to complete 24-hour testing.
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