2016 “Stop-Gap” Upgrades to Prototype Challenge Suggested

by Jake Kilshaw

It has been known for a while that Prototype Challenge is set to undergo a major overhaul at some point in the coming years, but details of possible alterations for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as a temporary fix have now surfaced.

These suggestions made by the teams themselves include a horsepower increase of around 30 to 50, aero changes and the introduction of a new ECU unit including traction control and telemetry. The goal is to decrease running costs and prolong the life of the aging ORECA FLM09 cars.

According to Simon Hodgson, IMSA Managing Director of Racing Operations: “IMSA continues to evaluate the future of the Prototype Challenge class through 2016 and beyond. As part of this process, IMSA has ongoing dialog with current PC competitors, as well as ORECA and Katech, the current single-specification suppliers, in addition to considering other options.

“IMSA will ensure our loyal PC stakeholders – and any future stakeholders – are kept fully informed as we near a conclusion to this evaluation process.”

Team owners have so far disagreed on many aspects of the next generation PC cars, but it would appear as if the need for upgrades ahead of 2016 is a fairly unanimous decision.

A test was held at Watkins Glen in June with the Ginetta-Nissan LMP3 car, but it left many teams unimpressed with the car’s design and low power output. Since then, interest has grown in the possibility of using a new car based on the next-gen LMP2 platform.

“From my perspective, there’s only really two viable paths,” said Morgan BradyCORE Autosport Chief Operating Officer, to Sportscar365. “The one that we’re discussing are the smaller technical updates as a stop-gap measure. The one I’m interested in and excited about would be basically a P2-derived spec chassis as a replacement for the LMPC car. That would certainly be interesting for me.

“As far as LMP3, I don’t think it’s really an option based on outright performance. And if the LMPC car has a short lifecycle left, it doesn’t make sense to do a large, excessive update.”

“When we started looking at options for the PC car, there’s not a whole lot of things wrong with it but there are some key aspects missing. I think with a cost-effective update that brings some additional technology and drivability to the car, it would create a lot of interest and potentially increase the car count for next year.”

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