One year removed from waxing the
2015 GTLM field, something as simple as
the short journey from nudging the rear
bumper to snuggling with the forward
firewall should return GTLM to a proper
five-way fight at every round.
“Moving the flat-six cylinder engine
forward in the chassis allowed for two
significant benefits,” says Porsche
Motorsport North America president
and CEO Jens Walther. “It improved the
balance of the car at the limits and, more
importantly, allowed for increased
aerodynamic efficiency. By adapting the
car within existing GTLM rules, we’ve taken
a substantial step in remaining at the top
in the ultra-competitive GTLM class.”
And similar to GT Daytona, IMSA’s
Balance of Performance regulations will
ensure these cutting-edge creatures
avoid major performance mutations.
From BoP, close GTLM finishes will follow.
“All the cars in the GTLM class are
within a tenth of a second on any given
race track,” says Porsche Team Manager
Morgan Brady. And as we’ve come to
expect, sometimes it’s way closer than
that – as in, 0.034sec way closer...
(FAR LEFT) Porsche
put U.S. mileage on
its new, mid-engined
911 RSR in Daytona’s
December 2016 test.
Competizione is into
a second year with
the Ferrari 488 GTE.
“All the cars in GTLM are
within a tenth of a second on
any given race track – and
sometimes its way closer”
with my training and how I’m preparing
myself,” Gavin reveals. “Our Corvette
Racing crew is, too. They’re doing CrossFit
to up their intensity level in the pit lane. You
have to keep looking at all areas where you
can improve and strengthen. Standing
still is getting left behind.”
And behind is where Porsche – the
epitome of endurance racing success – was
left at the end of last season. Positioned
over the rear axle, its seemingly immortal
flat-six powerplant had reached the end of
its competitive architecture in 2016.
Faced with powerful and agile mid-engine
challengers from Ford and Ferrari, plus
front-engine cars from BMW and Corvette
(with motors moved back to improve
chassis balance), the unthinkable
happened: 4-liters of flat-sixness was
upgraded from Business to First Class.
With the closeness of GT Le Mans class
competition comes an intensity that
Corvette Racing’s reigning GTLM
champ, Oliver Gavin, still finds amazing.
“In my eyes, it’s been somewhat
like this for the last 10 years or so,”
he says. “As we morphed into what
was GT2, then GT, and now GTLM,
the bar has stayed super-high.
“Amazingly, the level did go up
another notch last season, thanks to
some great competition from Ford.
They turned up with a spectacular car,
a good team and great drivers and
elevated the competition even further.
“If you were having a bad weekend
a couple of seasons ago, you might be
sixth or seventh; now, you’re 10th.
There’s nowhere to hide. You have to
keep working the whole weekend and
through the race to get the absolute
maximum from yourself, the car, the
tire and the strategy you’re running.
“There were many points through
2016 where we know we managed to
hit the sweet spot of the car at the
exact point where it mattered – the
last five laps at Road America, our win
at Lime Rock, and even getting the car
right for the last stint at Watkins Glen
to get valuable fourth-place points.
Those were all key for us and figured
significantly in our championship.”
(TOP) Close, intense racing defines GTLM.
(ABOVE) Season after season, reigning
champ Oliver Gavin has seen the bar rise.
2017 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
BMW’s 19th art car displays the work of conceptual
artist and renowned minimalist John Baldessari. The
design makes its race debut on BMW’s second-season
M6 GTLM in the season-open Rolex 24 at Daytona.