The new-for-2014 spec floor extension/tunnel extension/diffuser unit will significantly increase downforce for DPs.
Prototype teams competing in the current American Le Mans Series categories and those who completed the 2013 Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship have finally received the information they've been seeking.
RACER can reveal that through a Friday evening communication sent from IMSA, teams intending to compete in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship were notified of the changes that many have been expecting for the ALMS P2 and Rolex DP cars. The need to performance balance P2s and DPs into the new TUDOR Championship Prototype class will see most of the changes and expense falling on DP teams as they seek more speed to compete with their faster P2 counterparts.
Major DP Technical Changes:
• The new, high-downforce aero updates, which includes a move from a spec single element rear wing to a new spec dual element unit, mounting pillars, and a combo diffuser/tunnel extension for the rear of the floor, will be validated by the series on Monday and Tuesday and shipped to teams somewhere around Friday, Nov. 8. Use of the DP aero package is mandatory, and its price tag could fall in the $75,000 range.
• Daytona Prototypes have been required to use steel brakes since the DP concept was announced, but that will change for 2014 as the restriction for material has been removed. This not only opens up the option to use carbon fiber discs and pads, but essentially guarantees every DP will make the switch to match the carbon braking capabilities of the P2 cars. Some rather exotic materials and calipers have also surfaced over the past year in sports car racing – in the manufacturer-laden WEC P1 class, in particular – that have filtered down from F1, and per the new and unrestricted DP braking rules, those could also be used. Not only are those ‘wedge' braking system prohibitively expensive, they have been relatively exclusive, adding a further challenge to those teams with the budget to purchase something that goes beyond what P2 cars are capable of achieving under braking. A maximum rotor diameter of 380mm has been specified. The allowance of carbon brakes in DP goes against multiple assurances from the series that such a move would be made.
• The move to carbon brakes – something that is expected to be a uniform change – will also require additional brake cooling and a change to the wheel bearings. Ceramic bearings and larger ducting packages will also likely become standard.
• Heavier multi-piece wheels have also been a requirement in DP, but that restriction has been lifted. Single-piece forged wheels are now allowed – something P2 cars have used for years to reduce unsprung weight – which will now improve the performance of the DPs. Like the open brake material change, teams are allowed to remain with their existing three-piece wheels, but would be sacrificing speed.
• Spec clutch materials have been abandoned.
• The type of differentials allowed for competition is also free, which should result in significant development and experimentation – both could prove to be expensive. To keep exploration within reason, no hydraulic or electronic assistance is permitted within the diff.
• The throttle on DP engines is now free. A move to drive-by-wire could be adopted.
• Dampers, provided they are of an existing style in use, are open. This change is also one that will result in significant investment by DP teams as it has proven to be one of the biggest differentiators in a class where nearly spec cars are utilized.
• A 50 horsepower increase, as was previously stated by the series, will be seen next year.
Next page: P2 changes and general thoughts