The 2018 Continental Sportscar Challenge got its season underway at Daytona International Speedway. As the “pre-show” to the Rolex 24, CTSCC sees its 2nd year of the 4 hour format as it moves away from the 2 hr 30 min format that became the series standard. The 2nd year of the longer race format ran very similar as far as average speeds as last year, but the average speed was a little bit higher.
The track for Daytona has changed since I started doing these analysis’. Sectors 2 and 3 form the infield and will show a cars acceleration and handling capability. Sector 7 is the bus stop chicane, which will show strong braking and cornering capability. Every other sector is all about power and top speed.
The ST class, in its final year, is expected to see a significant drop in entries all season, which sucks because I’m a huge fan of this class and it’s one of the few remaining classes were someone can actually build a car instead of buying a pre-built car from The Man. Anyway, the fastest three cars in the ST class were from three different manufactures with three vastly different configurations. The Mini Cooper JCW was quickest (turbocharged, front wheel drive) and it was followed by the mid engine, rear wheel drive Porsche Cayman and then the front engine rear wheel drive BMW 328. In general the BMW and Mini seemed to have the advantage through the corners while the Porsche held the advantage in the straightaways. Overall the entire class was covered by about 1 second on average lap time and about 4 mph through the speed trap.
The TCR class (which at this point is basically Audi RS3 LMS Cup), should grow throughout the year and into 2019. The full TCR spec cars are just as quick as the GS GT4 machines so IMSA decided to slow them down with a less powerful engine map and this put the cars right in between the ST and GS cars. The entire class was separated by about 2.2 seconds with the only Volkswagen GTi in the field struggling. The three cars from Compass 360 racing dominated the weekend and ran 1-2-3 for a good portion of the race. Compass has a full year of experience with the TCR cars so it was expected that they would be strong from the start.
The GS class is absolutely stacked this year where a metric ton of new cars from BMW, Audi and Mercedes have caused entry numbers to boom. Big picture it seemed like the Audi’s and Porsches may have a very slight advantage. The Ford Mustang seemed to have a very slight advantage through the twisty bits and hung out at the bottom of the speed traps sheets. The BMW M4 GT4 and one of the Aston Martins occupied the top of the speed trap. Overall the entire class was incredibly close and separated by about 3.3 seconds on average lap time with the top 18 cars within 1.5 seconds. Through the speed trap the majority of the class was within 2 mph with a few cars that were struggling that ended up 5-7 mph down from the leaders.
Similar charts to the ones in the IMSA WeatherTech Analysis. Gives you an idea of who has the strongest driver line up and how long individual drivers were in the car.