Monday, September 30, 2013

Circuit Of The Americas track versus FLM, DP, and LMP1

 One of the features about the Circuit of the Americas track that we have mixed feelings about, is the orange concrete bumps they have at many corners. The object is to dissuade drivers from cutting a corner too close. Those things have proven to be unforgiving. But their real crime in our judgment is that they rob the public of perhaps a great battle.

For a track with such generous run off room, don't these cement mounds defeat the purpose of the run off areas? 

 When Grand-Am had its race at the circuit, while fighting for position with Max Angeleli, Scott Pruett had an encounter with one of those boulders. The impact ripped off the front cover of the Telmex Ganassi Prototype, and they were taken out of the running for the win. This robbed the fans of a great battle

During the ALMS race at Circuit of the Americas, the Rocket Sport Racing Formula Challenge car driven by Bruno Junqueira also had a rendez-vous with one of the orange mounds, and it broke the front suspension. We think that was the end of their championship hopes.

In this case Junqueira was driving by himself and not in a close fight with anyone, so it was simply his fault for trying to short cut the corner. But still, real race fans really like to see all the competitors in the race. Too many crashes and the sport could fall prey to attrition.

In the Sunday race of the ALMS/WEC double-header weekend at the Circuit Of The America, while attempting to evade a Toyota LMP1 in hot pursuit, Marcel Fassler (who had passed the Toyota earlier) ran  over an orange mound, and had a spectacular launch. Unlike the competitors in the Daytona Prototype and the Formula Challenge car, the Audi R18 was able to continue as if almost nothing happened. The only thing that came off was the rear air diffuser by the tire.

One of the announcers did bring to light that the Audi survived its airborne experience much better than the Daytona Prototype did. Though the #1 Audi did have an electrical glitch later in the race, the car was still in one piece.

We can only attribute the reason for the E-Tron Quattro's durability to its nearly unlimited development costs. The Formula LeMans car suffered the most damage during its excursion, and it's also the least expensive for a team to run. The DP is slightly more in price than a cost capped LMP2.

Whereas the DP and the FLM09 were designed to be sold at a particular price point, the Audi on the other hand, to this day no one really knows how much each car costs to build and race. And probably only a few rare folks in the Audi clan know the real development costs of the prototypes.