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TUSCC: Rolex 24 At Daytona, Friday Paddock Notes

Paddock sources are suggesting that the DP owners are again putting pressure on IMSA to accommodate their cars when the regulations change in 2017. The balance between relevance of a new set of regulations beyond North America and an IMSA aspiration for manufacturer influenced and brand specific bodywork and the commercial imperatives for what looks set to be the majority of the full season Prototype field looks set to be one of the next major regulatory challenges.

There was an interesting change to the livery of the Tequila Patron ESM HPDs during the day yesterday. The cars initially appeared on track without the NAEC upper shade band, something which was the subject of a spirited discussion between the team and IMSA officials later, with somewhat blunt instructions given to remedy the situation or be excluded! The shade bands duly appeared!

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A potentially interesting conversation was underway in the Media Centre canteen this morning between Wayne Taylor and a number of representatives for Oreca, including Hugues de Chaunac. DSC understands that Oreca are keen to offer Wayne Taylor Racing the opportunity to run a Nissan engined Oreca 05 LMP2 coupe to enable the team to take up their entry for the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours. Only the minor issue of finalised funding now stands in the way of the effort.

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Patrick Dempsey on racing at Daytona with the Brumos Porsche colours on the #58 Wright/ Dempsey GTD Porsche 911 GT America:

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“I was in tears the first time I saw the car, I’m not kidding! You look at the history of Brumos in this country and its almost as if their selling the cars was almost the beginning of Porsche itself here. The heritage is massive and its history and level of excellence is amazing. It’s awe inspiring to be a small part of it.”

Krohn: Tracy Krohn is like a kid with a new toy. A very large kidd, but still like a kidd. He is really enjoying his Ligier and all of the speed that comes with it.

It is evident that Tracy is taking this serious. “I’ve been working hard on my fitness, as this car really requires it. One area I’ve really been paying attention to is my neck. It is absolutely necessary to strengthen my neck in order for me to get the most out me and the car. At a recent test, we were seeing forces of around 3.8gs, I’ve got to be much more fit than I was when driving the Ferrari to be competitive.” It shows that Tracy is serious, he is much more lean and muscular heading into Daytona than he has been in the past.

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One of the basic criteria for the team was to find a car in which Tracy could fit and race at speed comfortably. His views were shared with another equally large person, Tom Kendall, who was recently announced as a new member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Both of these tall people have had difficulties in fitting comfortably in a car. For Tracy, the Ligier was a good fit.

Another important part of the package was the engine choice process. Tracy explained it as, “we saw the Nissan as a motor that first of all most everybody was using, but also it is near the end of its development cycle. We also looked at the HPD, but thought it was first of all more complex and also more not be as reliable. Then we looked at the Judd and liked what we saw. We know what upgrades are coming down the road and we feel very comfortable with the choice.”

The team has brought on Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle to accelerate the learning curve, as both were development drivers for the new car which debuted at Le Mans last season. According to Tracy, their assistance in the entire process has been invaluable, especially as they were present at the initial test at Estoril.

As of now, Tracy said the intentions of the team is to compete at both Daytona and Sebring and then move over to compete in the ELMS, as well as hopefully at Le Mans.

Mazda Updates: According to Sylvain Tremblay, the upgrade of the Mazda motor has been a long time in coming and while it has brought on gains in performance, it also brings on new issues.

“We’d hoped to be able to run the new components at Petit last October, but we simply ran out of time. The new head allows the engine to cool better, which allows us to increase the boost and also the output. But as we do that, we find other issues, which is normal in the course of development. As you solve problems and increase the power out of the motor, you find other weak links.”

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“That is what we are up against. Currently we are still down on where we want to be, but at least the progress has put us within about 3 seconds of the pace here at Daytona. We knew coming here that Daytona was not a track that would favor us, so to even be that close is a huge boost to the entire effort.”

Sebring likely will offer other issues to the effort. “In some ways, the layout of the track should be more beneficial for us. But the rough nature of the track does not suit our Lola chassis, which is designed for the billiard table smooth tracks of Europe. For Sebring, we have to increase our ride height and when we do so, we lose our valuable downforce. We hope to be able to gain some of it back by making aero changes to the car. By now being able to run smaller radiators, we can better optimize the aero package of the car.”

“We look forward to returning to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for more than just obvious reasons. We think that there and Mosport will give us our best chances to be competitive. We just need to keep working and keep developing the entire package.”

As far as Daytona, Sylvain is looking to finish. He hopes to keep the issues to a minimum throughout the race and to hopefully be able to bring both cars home. “We know we’re not ready to start winning races yet, but we are at least closing that gap. Hopefully with more work, we can close that gap even further and be in contention for wins.”

They may have a ways to go right now, but look at where they have already come from.