Featured Image: Ben Wedge
Over the last 15 years the class structure in North American Motorsports has changed. In 2001, the American Le Mans Series had LMP900, which eventually morphed into LMP1 and eventually LMP. In 2001, LMP675 was the 2nd tier prototype class. LMP675 became LMP2 and eventually merged with LMP1 at one point and then LMP2 and Daytona Prototypes filled this void. In the GT car ranks we had GTS which became GT1 and then GT which became GT2 and then GTLM.
In my eyes these classes evolved specs. I took a look at the poles times of all classes since 2001. Sebring was chosen as the track.
The graph shows each class of car and the class pole time in each year of the event. Over time the laptimes generally decrease, with a few exceptions of course. Starting with GTC/GTD, the lowest level GT class. From 2010 to 2013 the GTC class Porsches ran mid 2:05’s to mid 2:07’s. The last two years, with the introduction of the GTD class laptimes have fallin into the 2:03’s.
The 2015 spec GTD class ran similar laptimes as the 2004-2006 era GT2 spec machines. In the early 2000’s the GT2 class ran laptimes in the 2:07-2:06 ranges. Times have steadily fallen until they got to the current sub 2:00 range in 2012 dipping as low as 1:58.6 in 2015.
2015 Spec GTLM cars are running laptimes around Sebring similar to the all-conquering Corvette C5-R and not that far off of the GT-1 spec cars of 2008 and 2007. Expect the 2016 specification cars with their added horsepower and extra downforce to come damn close to GT1 laptimes around Sebring.
LMP2 times have fluctuatred a little. In the early years of the LMP675 class times were in the 1:50 range to the 2:00 range depending on the quality of machinery that showed up. When the Porsche RS Spyders and ARX-whatever showed up lap times dropped as low as 1:46, on par with the LMP1 cars of the day. With the introduction of the cost capped LMP2 rules the lap times raised to 1:53 and they have slowly crept down into the 1:51’s in the United Sportscar Championship era. Current Prototype (P2 and DP) times are about 2 seconds off of the Audi R8 of the early 2000’s.
Speaking of LMP1, lap times have been relatively flat, starting out in the 1:48 range and dipping as low as 1:43’s once the diesel prototypes hit their stride. Regulations slowed LMP1 cars down in 2009 but with the introduction of the R18 times dipped back into the 1:43’s.