Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sebring 12 Hours - What might have been?

The Sebring 12 hours was dominated – not entirely unexpectedly – by the Safety Car. In all, 5h 04m were spent under full course caution, in a total of eleven separate periods. At one point, the red flag was waved, and cars came to a complete halt on the Ullman Straight while the debris from the accident between David Ostella (Oreca no. 38) and Frankie Montecalvo (Oreca no. 52) was cleared up.

In the end, the winning Chip Ganassi entry, in the hands of Marino Franchitti, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett came home the winner, but that was largely down to luck: although the efforts of Franchitti to keep the Riley-Ford in the lead for the last twenty minutes were indeed impressive, the car was only in that position due to its slightly higher fuel consumption requiring it to stop earlier than its competition, and the final Safety Car period coming at just the right time for the team and entirely changing the complexion of a race that was in some ways a fine strategic battle.

The Safety Car disruption meant that only three periods in the race were long enough for cars to use more than a tank of fuel, as shown in the table below:

From lap
To lap
From Time
To time
2h 06m
1h 21m

I thought it might be interesting to look at what happened in the race, based solely on the lap times recorded during these periods, and the results – unsurprisingly – bear little resemblance to the actual race results.

In the prototype class, the results were:

Pos No. Car Laps completed Time Pit stops
1 42 Oak Morgan-Nissan 131 4h 19m 27.179s 5
2 5 Corvette DP 131 4h 19m 40.927s 5
3 1 ESM HPD-Honda 131 4h 19m 52.695s 5
4 02 Ganassi Riley-Ford 131 4h 20m 55.253s 6
5 2 ESM HPD-Honda 131 4h 20m 58.920s 5
6 01 Ganassi Riley-Ford 131 4h 21m 19.503s 6

I am not sure what, if anything, this all proves. Possibly that the race leaders in the United SportsCar Championship races do not push on as hard as they possibly can, knowing that any lead that they do establish will be eroded as soon as the next Safety Car appears. In any case, it is certainly interesting that the Oak P2-spec car was consistently quicker than any other, and also that the Extreme Speed HPD also came within a whisker of winning the race overall.

The balance of P2 and DP is probably about right, therefore, at least at Sebring. I suspect Daytona was probably somewhat extreme.

In the GT-LM class, the “All-Green” (using the same periods as above) race result looks like this:

Pos No. Car Laps completed Time Pit stops
1 4 Corvette C7.R 126 4h 20m 31.371s 4
2 3 Corvette C7.R 126 4h 20m 44.205s 4
3 912 Works Porsche 911 RSR 126 4h 21m 10.127s 5
4 93 SRT Viper 126 4h 21m 59.109s 5
5 17 Falken Porsche 911 RSR 124 4h 19m 31.789s 4
6 55 BMW Z4 GTE 124 4h 22m 03.797s 10

From which the most evident thing is that this form of racing provides opportunities for recovery drives like no other - but then again, it was ever thus: racing for a team to exploit regulations, despite various setbacks. Hats off to the RLL BMW crew for getting back onto the class podium, despite losing two laps under green racing conditions!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul great read.interested in you views on Toyota improvement during the coming wec.