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May 02, 2014 - 06:16 PM
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Prototype Points Battle Is 'On' As Tudor Championship Heads To California Coast
Posted by: ASkyler on May 02, 2014 - 06:15 PM
Feature Articles
Prototype Points Battle Is 'On' As Tudor Championship Heads To California Coast


By Brian Bielanski, NASCAR Wire Service

MONTEREY, Calif. - An early-season Chevrolet versus Ford points battle is heating up in the headlining Prototype (P) class as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Series heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend, for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda.

A seven-point gap separates the first- and third-place Corvette DPs of Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. Nestled in between in second place, just five points back, is Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford EcoBoost Riley DP.

Sanctioning body IMSA is making a balance of performance adjustment ahead of Sunday’s race for the P class. The Chevrolet-powered DPs will run with a one-millimeter smaller restrictor plate while Ford-powered DPs will use a 0.9-millimeter smaller plate. The Fords are also getting a small reduction in turbo boost.

 

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Series officials hope the approximate 10-14 horsepower adjustment will tighten the racing between the DP and the P2 cars in the P class.

"Honestly, the truth of the matter is that, after you look at the [season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona separately], which you really have to do because it’s a totally unique event [with the high banks and higher speeds involved], we’re really only two races into this new deal," said IMSA Vice President of Competition and Technical Regulations Scott Elkins.

"Now, in no way do we want to pat ourselves on the back — we’re not going to do that by any means — but we do have the lap times between DPs and P2s very close now. And to be only making relatively small adjustments at this stage is something we feel good about."

Joao Barbosa, who co-drives the point-leading No. 5 Corvette DP with Christian Fittipaldi, is looking forward to taking on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.

"We had a great race at Long Beach and I’m really excited to get back behind the wheel," said Barbosa. "We’ve finished on the podium in the first three races [of the season] which is a great achievement for Action Express and I really can’t wait to get to Laguna and see what we can do there."

The points battle is even tighter in the GT Le Mans class where eight teams are within nine points of the lead. Atop the list is the BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE co-driven by Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx.

An interesting twist to this weekend’s event is that IMSA is splitting the four TUDOR Championship classes into two feature races. The GT Daytona and Prototype Challenge cars will race first on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. EDT. Green flag for the Prototype and GT Le Mans race is 5:45 p.m. EDT. Both races are two-hour timed events, and will air live on FOX Sports 1. Qualifying is set for Saturday.


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