During this first official testing day, the times in the top category were rather refreshing. Audi was not the first or second car in the early session. But they were using the new 2013 version of the R18 (the #2 car) which is a bit different than the 2012 version. So it might have just needed a bit of a shake up to adapt it to the Sebring track.
In the second session of the testing day, the 2012 Audi R18 (the #1 car) was ran, and it was the fastest car. But the times are decidedly closer than in previous years. It's still too early to tell whether this will be a fair fight or not, but it does give fans something to look forward to.
During the race it's supposed to take the diesel cars longer to refuel and they are supposed to run out of fuel quicker than the gasoline powered cars. Those are all advantages that Dyson, Rebellion, and Musclce Milk should use to their advantage, but Audi has been in game too long to not have foreseen all that and prepared themselves in consequence.
If the race turns out to be close among the Audis and the privateer cars, would Muscle Milk think twice about not having sought a 24hr of LeMans engagement?
In LMP2, Level 5 and Extreme Speed did not set times during any of the test sessions. Level 5's lineup leaves no doubt about its intentions. The win or nothing. Ryan Briscoe and Simon Pagenaud in one car and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marino Franchitti in the other. Scott Tucker will drive both cars alongside his hired studs.
Even though all the other hired drivers except Ryan Hunter-Reay have done full seasons in the ALMS, he is the only one to have actually won the race in his class. Both of Level 5's cars can win LMP2.
In the Extreme Speed Motorsport (ESM) camp we maintain that the best driver here is Guy Cosmo. But he usually drives alongside Ed Brown (the real shot caller in the team), and he simply has a lot more money than driving skills. Sure he would probably outgun us, but we're not measuring ourselves against world class drivers.
For Sebring, ESM has put Guy Cosmo in the 01 car alongside Scott Sharp and also brought in David Brabham. This becomes the lead car and the only one that will be able to challenge any of Level 5's contenders. If Johannes Van Overbeek and Anthony Lazarro in the #02 car can quickly master the LMP2 Honda, there could be more to the story.
Well before the Oreca 03, Acura and Porsche LMP2 cars, the Zytek was the package of choice for a competitive P2 campaign. They used to build the entire car - literally. But they don't have an engine currently used in a road car, as mandated by the new LMP2 regulations. The brand is currently seeing a resurgence with the company having adapted the chassis to the Nissan engine. We think they will have to be at their optimum to scare ESM and Level 5.
We'll need to see some P2 testing numbers to be able to tell which team has the right setup on their cars.