IMSA takes North American sports cars into hybrid era

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Cadillacs roar as Porsches and BMWs scream. Acura sounds like an Indycar. For fun, turn your back on the track and listen carefully to the roar of the cars roaring around the International Speedway at Daytona in a new era of IMSA sports car racing.

The top prototype class switched to hybrid engines this year, making IMSA the first North American racing series to upgrade its technology. It was automakers who wanted to move to hybrids. To ensure that its motorsport program reflects the direction of most road cars.

Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos said: “This is great for parallel road car development and racing.

The cars will make their debut at the 24-hour Rolex 24 at Daytona on Saturday. This has been described as a ‘symphony of sounds’ thanks to the new engine. The hybrid powertrain combines a conventional internal combustion engine with Bosch’s motor his generation unit, an energy recovery system that includes a battery and his Xtrac gearbox.

One of the main concerns heading into this new era was that hybrid technology would rob cars of the big roar that is part of the allure of motorsport. But the opposite happened as GTP’s four manufacturers (twice as many as his last year) created an engine with a unique sound. BMW and Porsche have stepped up their class to join the effort, while Lamborghini has announced plans to join the series.

“What I like about the hybrid system compared to the technically (electric) system is that it still sounds great and I think that is very important. It’s like an orchestra playing. They all sound as good as they do,” said NASCAR Chairman Jim France, who also owns IMSA. “I think the formula we have is going to be very important for motorsport.”

A new rules package will also allow IMSA’s top GTP class to qualify for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as early as possible. Acura and BMW have already said they are not ready for Le Mans this year.

This change brought Roger Penske back into sports car racing. Rahal Letterman Lanigan has taken his BMW program to the top of his IMSA, and Michael Andretti said last month Wayne He partnered with Taylor His Racing to put his Autosport on the grid.

Excited Daytona officials predict the biggest crowds in at least a decade for the 61st edition of North America’s most prestigious endurance race.

But Saturday’s debut was difficult to reach as manufacturers battle a supply chain crisis and compressed timelines for launching completely new programs.

Mike O’Gara, Director of Operations for Chip Ganassi Racing’s two-car Cadillac program, said: “In the 30-year history of Chip Ganassi Racing, we have been fortunate to participate in the launch of many different vehicles. The level of complexity of cars with hybrid systems and other control systems and the supply chain issues of trying to keep cars far enough away until they are ready make us hold The timeline we’ve been through has been difficult.”

It took the team 18 months after the rules package to build the car and engine was set, but it has just 17 weeks from the end of last season to secure its entry into the biggest race of the IMSA season. was.

Porsche programs affiliated with Roger Penske’s return to sports car racing and Le Mans chance Initial testing of a single-source hybrid system was performed.

“Everything is new,” said David Salters, president of Honda Performance Development. That’s why we torment ourselves and that’s why we love it.

“The easy thing would have been to lift and shove the[last year’s]engine, but that’s not why we do this. What do we need?”

And now that the car has arrived at Daytona and is race-ready, there are big concerns about its durability in the 24-hour race. The inability of the prototypes to finish the race is enough to cause some second-class LMP2 teams to believe they are gunning for the overall win.

Defending race winners and IMSA champions Meyer Shank Racing will start from pole position, but skipped Friday night’s final practice due to concerns about the Acura’s durability over the full race. MSR’s lineup includes his four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. He has won the Rolex 24 for his second straight run.

There are reports that the two Acura programs, Shank and Andretti/Taylor, have yet to complete the 24-hour test.


AP Auto Racing: and

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