Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cudda Been Worse...

source: Road & Track

This Road & Track graphic explains the consolidations of classes for 2014 in the new United Sportscar Championship better than paragraphs of text.  It could have been worse.  The jewel of ALMS (in my opinion), GT, becomes GT LeMans.  The "lower" GT classes of both former series, which were confusing anyway, are consolidated into GT Daytona.

Prototype 1 goes away, which is no big loss.  It had pretty much gone away anyhow with the departure of the major European manufacturers from the ALMS a few years ago.

Prototype 2 from ALMS and Grand-Am's Daytona Prototype are combined into--Prototype.  This is easy to understand and the performance of the cars is "equalized."  These cars will no longer be eligible to run at LeMans.  It will be interesting to see what the USC does with this class, rules-wise, when the grandfathered cars are older and some clean screen designs are done.  With turbos now allowed, we could see some small engines from Europe and Japan.  That would spice it up.  There is no reason why the USC couldn't write rules that would emphasize the "high tech" vs. the "low cost" side of the equation.  It could allow cars that would be eligible to run at LeMans with minor modifications.  This would permit teams to contest the championship in North America and LeMans, as the ALMS rules did.

The main point is that the relatively high-tech and fast GT (now "LeMans") class remains undisturbed. The rules on both sides of the pond are the same.  So Corvette can continue to contest LeMans itself, and factory GT's from the Europeans remain legal for the championship over here.  I smell General Motors (and perhaps Ford and Chrysler): if Porsche or Ferrari had told USC "don't mess with the rules or we're out," USC might have said "See ya..."  But Corvette has a 10+ year investment in LeMans and, apparently, G.M. told USC the same thing.  Good on 'em!  I want to see American teams, factory or otherwise, continue to contest LeMans.  Viper went last year, and it would be a thrill to see Ford return with the new Mustang.  It's past time that you went back to LeMans, FoMoCo.

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