IMSA’s Tudor United Sportscar Championship is set to rid of its Daytona Prototype racing class for the 2017 season, meaning Chevrolet will no longer be able to field its Corvette DP racecars in the series. This leaves General Motors racing director Mark Kent with some important decisions to make, but he can’t do much until Tudor decides on a set of P2 class rules.
As RACER reports, the ACO/FIA/IMSA planning commission is currently developing special P2-class rules for Tudor with special provisions. These could include custom bodywork for the P2 cars, and ridding of the production-based engine requirements currently in place for DP cars, giving GM two options in regards to participation.
“There’s really two paths that have potential,” Kent told RACER. “One, is there has been talk about manufacturer-specific body parts. Until the rules come down, we don’t know what we can make the car look like. But if the rules come down to where they are attractive to Chevrolet and other manufacturers, that could be a path for us.”
“Another path could just truly be an engine technology path, where if we can’t get enough character in the (bodywork), then maybe putting an engine platform in a car like a Ligier could offer us the opportunity to continue in the prototype class, because our participation in the prototype classes has been great.”
Kent’s statements really only leave us with more questions. RACER points out Chevy’s current 5.5-liter V8 racing engine is too big and heavy to fit in a P2 car and was never designed to be a stressed component of the chassis. The 3.6-liter LF4 racing engine found in the ATS-V.R seems like a potential candidate for P2 competition, but if Tudor rids of production-based engine requirements, GM could develop an entirely new engine instead.
Chevrolet will make its decision based on which is the most sound business case. If a P2 endeavor could result in knowledge gained for its IndyCar, NASCAR, and Corvette Racing programs, the brand would see that as a huge bonus. Additionally, Kent says Chevrolet would like to see at least some of its potential P2 developments be relevant to road car development in some way.
“We always look to maximize the technology transfer, and it’s not always part for part, it’s not always taking the block from the racecar and putting it directly in the streetcar,” Kent said. “It’s learning from participating in motorsports. It is developing aerodynamic tools, racecar applications that you can then apply to production cars and make the production tools better…”
“When we look at IndyCar, people say you don’t race, you don’t build open-wheel cars. But we learn by direct injection, small-displacement turbos – you learn in that environment and take those learnings back to production. Again, not part for part, but theory to theory, material to material.”
“As you look forward here in this class, does it have to look like a car we sell? No. Would it be nice to have styling cues? Yes. Does the engine have to be production based? No. But should it have technologies that are relevant to production? Absolutely.”
RACER says as long as the sanctioning body can bring a set of rules to the table by summer, GM could have an answer in regards to its potential P2 program by the end of this racing season. As long as there is a business case for the program, you could be seeing a Chevy-branded P2 race car in less than two years’ time.