As the 2014 SportsCar season continues, we travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in beautiful Monterey, California. This weekend will feature non-stop racing action as nine races will be run over the course of three days (Friday-Sunday) on the famed road circuit (2.238 miles, 11 turns). Seven of those races will be sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), including Sunday’s headlining, nationally televised (FOX Sports 1) TUDOR United SportsCar Championship doubleheader. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a tracked laid out with several long medium- to medium-high speed corners and a low top speed of 150mph, one of the lowest top speeds of all the tracks visited on the calendar. Sections of the track are similar to street tracks, but with elevation changes including the famous Corkscrew turn, a steep drop away over a blind 90-degree left-hand bend that immediately sweeps away to the right. It is a driver favorite as well as a fan favorite. With a paddock set to see a total of 193 cars, 165 being IMSA-sanctioned, paddock and pit road space is at a premium this weekend. This mass of teams includes:
- 60 entries for Saturday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race.
- 56 entries for Sunday’s TUDOR Championship doubleheader consisting of one race with Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona cars, the second combining Prototype and GT Le Mans classes.
- 34 entries for the two Sunday races in IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
- 15 entries for Saturday and Sunday races in the IMSA-sanctioned Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.
- And in the Sports Car Club of America-sanctioned Mazda MX-5 Cup, 28 cars for races on Friday and Saturday.
“We anticipated and planned for this kind of turnout, but to have almost 200 cars in the paddock is a welcomed reality for IMSA and exceeded our original positive expectations,” said IMSA Vice President of Competition and Technical Regulations Scot Elkins. “From an IMSA standpoint, 165 cars across seven events is simply an outstanding number. All of this is made possible by the incredible group of stakeholders, which includes our drivers, teams, tracks, manufacturers, sponsors, suppliers, media partners, and most importantly, our growing fan base.” Sunday’s Tudor Championship competition will be divided into two, two-hour races, primarily due to the high car count across the championship’s four classes with 56 entries total. This format should make for good racing, with the TUDOR Championships Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes in the first race, followed by the Prototype (P) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes in the second event. As expected, Daytona Prototype teams see a reduction in horsepower this weekend as IMSA officials continue to strive for an equitable balance of performance in the headlining Prototype class heading into the fourth race of the season. The P class features DP, P2 and DeltaWing cars that are very different from each other and present an intriguing challenge, the opportunity to create some of the most unique prototype racing in the history of North American sports car competition. Corvette DPs will race with a one-millimeter smaller air restrictor, knocking back air flow to the engine while Ford EcoBoost engines’ restrictors will be 0.9-millimeter smaller with the Ford engines also will have a slight reduction in boost for the twin turbos. GT Daytona teams also see balance of performance changes as Porsche’s 911 GT America, which won the most recent GTD round at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, has received an air restrictor (74 mm) in addition the BMW Z4’s which also receive a restrictor (65 mm). Ferrari’s F458, which scored the GTD win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, has received a rev reduction from 8200 to 8000. While Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage, which has been fast during the first two events where the GTD class competed, will receive its air through smaller openings, dropping from two 47 mm restrictors to two 45 mm holes. This weekend also marks the return of a number of teams to the paddock as Delta Wing Racing and the Prototype Challenge class returns to the grid. With the return of the Prototype Challenge class we see a return of a historic livery as the iconic stripes of the Martini brand will adorn the No. 8 Starworks ORECA FLM09 Prototype Challenge car in its return to American sports car racing. “We are tremendously excited to bring back the famous livery to sports car racing in the USA,” said team owner Peter Baron.” The fantastic news is that, with Mirco and Renger in the car, we are confident it will return to victory lane! “This new livery also coincides with the start of the championship drive. The aim was to get through the 24 and 12-hour in the best position possible without losing points from a disaster. We are now confident that our lineup of Mirco and Renger in the two-driver format races will be challenging for wins every time we go out and of bringing Martini into victory lane.” GTLM entrant Risi Competizione announced that Pierre Kaffer will return to the team for the first time since 2010. The German driver will partner Giancarlo Fisichella in the Risi Competizione No.62 Ferrari 458 Italia in the GTLM category. Fisichella, a former F1 driver with 229 Grand Prix starts and World Championship GTE titles to his name, was paired with Dane Cameron at the previous round in Long Beach, California as the GTD class was not competing. Cameron’s prior commitments with his GTD team therefore prevent him from being available to Risi Competizione. With the amount of racing set to take place this weekend, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is sure to be packed with drivers, teams and fans. As the three day event kicks off for the first time in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, qualifying for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda will be streamed live on IMSA.com. Moving forward, IMSA plans to stream qualifying for all TUDOR Championship events on IMSA.com. The stream will feature FOX Sports broadcast cameras and leverage Fanschoice.tv streaming technology. Saturday, May 3 Live qualifying stream on IMSA.com – 7:55 p.m. ET Sunday, May 4 PC/GTD Race – 1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 Pre-Race Show – 5 p.m. ET on IMSA.com P/GTLM Race – 5:30 p.m. ET