what’s wrong with excellence?
imbalance of performance
structure a competition between cars
with very different architecture and
configurations? It’s not a new problem, and
it’s obsessed and confounded many sectors
of motorsports globally for a long time.
Even in Indy cars and Formula 1, this
has been a problem. If you were around
in the 1980s, you probably recall the
difficulty in balancing normally aspirated
and turbo charged engines in F1.
In sports car and GT racing, the
problem’s been very prominent, probably
just about forever. How do you mix
together cars that are very different?
These days, technology and knowledge
allows us much greater theoretical and
practical understanding of cars and
engines. There are various ways people
go about trying to find equivalency
between these vastly different machines,
and this so-called “Balance of
Performance” is quite prevalent, both in
Europe and North America.
“So what’s the problem? It seems to be
working quite well,” you might say.
Well, it is to some extent, but let me
qualify my statement. Balancing
performance works best in the amateur
ranks, where one is more focused in
finding a stable base for competition and
predictable (and low) costs of participation.
When so much of life is about trying to
find an advantage and unbalancing your
performance, it’s the fundamentally
opposite approach to what many of our
sport’s governing bodies are trying to do.
And that, in fact, is the fundamental
conundrum. Do I reward excellence with
accolades, or do I penalize it to bring
competitors closer together?
Frankly, creating equivalency is an
impossible job, particularly when often
you’re racing for differences of less than one
percent, a figure that’s very much within
the error of our engineering understanding.
“What’s the solution?”
There is no solution, per se. Creating
perfect equivalency is just not possible.
So the only “solution” is to understand
and accept, as participants and fans, that
fundamental differences will exist between
the performance of very different cars
and this will likely drive the results.
Nirvana for me?
Give me an amount of energy or some
dimensional constraints, whatever…or free
everything up for all I care. Bring old
Can-Am rules back, I don’t know. Just give
me a stable framework, let me succeed or
fail by my own competence, let me work
on my car, let excellence be rewarded.
I want to see a modern version of the
legendary Porsche 917.
And I want to know that I was beaten
by a better man.
If a framework of
rules that seeks to
promote and reward
of obsessing over
equality, results in
cars like the mighty
Porsche 917/30 of
Can-Am fame, then
that’s fine with
Gil de Ferran.