One rival accused Acura Team Penske of sending coded signals to the No. 6 Penske Acura DPi at Road America.
IMSA, the sanctioning body for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, has issued some minor changes for the cars racing in this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway.
For the GT-only race — the DPi and the LMP2 Prototypes get the weekend off — IMSA, as part of its “Balance of Performance” adjustments, has mandated a 5-kilogram (11 pound) increase in the minimum weight of the two Chip Ganassi-owned Ford GTs in the GT Le Mans class, although they’ve been given a very modest power boost, as well as an increase in the amount of E20 fuel the tank will hold by 2 liters.
The BMW Team RLL’s two GTLM BMW M8 GTE’s get one less liter of fuel capacity, and a slight power decrease.
In the GT Daytona class, The Audi R8 LMS GT3s will benefit from a 20-kilogram (44 pound) decrease in their minimum weight, while the Ferrari 488 GT3s get a 10-kilogram (22 pound) weight break. Also, the McLaren 720S GT3s will have the capacity of their fuel tanks cut by 4 liters.
The Balance of Performance adjustments are implemented by IMSA based on data from previous events to try and maintain a level playing field for the different entries.
In a separate issue, IMSA also issued a Competition Bulletin for the WeatherTech series on Aug. 14 that stated, “All radio transmissions between the Team and Car or Driver must be in English and directly understandable in their meaning. The use of code(s), cipher(s), disguised, misleading, or otherwise secretive language is prohibited.”
On Aug. 21, another Competition Bulletin was issued, removing the “in English” requirement, and adding this: “Providing false or intentionally misleading information is a breach of the rules and the use of code(s), cipher(s), disguised, misleading, or otherwise secretive language to attempt to influence the BoP process by manipulating the performance through driver management or by any other means is prohibited and may be penalized per Article 57.”
Another Bulletin issued Aug. 21 says that beginning with this weekend’s race, IMSA will no longer make trackwide performance data available during the event, with the exception of just three sectors. Also, speed trap data will no longer be released until after the race.
These two bulletins are designed to help prevent teams from manipulating their performance, ostensibly to avoid being penalized by with Balance of Performance sanctions. For example, if a car is hitting 175 mph at the end of a straightaway, which is substantially faster than the competition, a team could relay information to the driver on track to slow down to, say, 170 to avoid IMSA’s scrutiny. According to Sportscar365.com, Pipo Derani, driver of the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Action Express DPi, claimed after the Road America race that the (second place) No. 6 Penske Acura DPi was “controlling the pace from the beginning to the end. They’re giving their drivers codes and different numbers (on the radio). Code 0 and Code 53.”
Indeed, it has been a tough string of races this midseason for the five Cadillac-powered Prototypes. Cadillac won the first three races of the season but has been beaten by the Mazdas or Acuras the last five races in a row.
CORE BOWS OUT: John Bennett, co-driver and team principal for CORE autosport, the South Carolina-based race team that fields a Nissan-Oreca DPi in the Weathertech Prototype class, said in an open letter Thursday that the last race for him and his team will be the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
Bennett’s team, which uses equipment purchased from the Tequila Patron Extreme Speed team at the end of last season and runs the only Nissan-powered DPi in the field, has had a best finish of fourth at the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Bennett, 54, and co-driver Colin Braun are presently 11th in points.
CORE also fields the factory two-car Porsche GT Le Mans team which leads the series points, and that program, he said, will continue.
Bennett, a two-time IMSA Prototype Challenge champ, is the founder of Composite Resources, a composite engineering and manufacturing company that has built spoilers and decklids for NASCAR.
“The obvious question is, why?” Bennett wrote in his farewell letter. “The time has simply come for me. I have lived the dream of so many who are passionate about motorsport and it’s time to reflect and enjoy racing, once again, from outside the race car. I would like to thank IMSA for their graciousness and providing a world-class stage upon which to perform. Thank you, Jim France, Ed Bennett, Scott Atherton and the entire IMSA organization for your amazing, unwavering dedication to our sport.”
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