The 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Championship will soon get underway with the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month. In light of the quickly approaching season, Corvette Racing’s Doug Fehan sat down with Sportscar365 to discuss some of the more pressing topics that will affect the team throughout the season – including but not limited to Balance of Performance regulations.
Fehan noted that the team is facing an extra challenge this year, as more teams will be running turbocharged cars. The new Ferrari 488 and BMW M6 GTLM cars feature a turbocharge V8, while the Ford GT features a turbocharged V6. Fehan says “nobody has ever successfully balanced naturally aspirated and turbo engines competing together,” which has them a bit worried about 2016.
“They (turbocharged engines) are affected dramatically different by air restrictors, altitude, relative humidity,” Fehan said.
“However as the engine technology has advanced, so has the electronic technology. The systems that were proposed and have been implemented here, which monitors the turbo engines and controls the boost as a function of the engine RPM, it has the capability of really creating a power curve that closer resembles a naturally aspirated engine.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the balance works out,” he added. “Do I have some reservations? Well of course but I’m sure the turbo guys do too.”
Fehan didn’t rule out the possibility of a turbocharged Corvette, noting the production car program experience with boosted engines in the supercharged C7 Z06. However he did say there are no plans to run such an engine in the racecar at this time, adding that the production guys at GM likely haven’t yet made a decision in regards to a turbocharged Corvette for the road.
Fehan also discussed how the many GTLM cars are now switching to a mid-engine layout. He expects the rear-engine Porsche to switch to a mid-engine layout for competitive purposes by 2017 and didn’t scoff at the idea of mid-engine Corvette racecar.
“As far as Corvette is concerned, we’ve made a commitment to run what we sell. To rule out that the engine location would change would be foolish,” he said.
“But we have no commitment at all on anything other than our front-engined vehicle. We’ll run what they build. If they decide to build something, you can bet we’ll be racing it.”
Finally, Fehan addressed the pressing issue of IMSA’s BoP regulations. He says the race series has acknowledged their shortcomings in regards to the regulations and is working with teams to help improve them.
“The key to this whole thing is IMSA recognizing that they can do better… and they have. When you recognize where your soft spots are, that’s the first step in getting them fixed. We’ve got that recognition from them and their expressed willingness to improve.”
“We’re working with them to try and achieve that. We had a great Windshear wind tunnel test with all the manufacturers. It was a very, very, very productive test. It’s the starting point. Balance of Performance will never be perfect but we know it can be a lot better.”