32 WINTER 2016/17
off the podium, won’t be easy.
“It’s great to have three newcomers to
the series, not only for Stevenson
Motorsports, but for Audi as well,” says
Stevenson team manager Mike Johnson.
“It’s important for all manufacturers to be
able to compete against each other on a
level playing field. However, none of the
[inbound factory] teams are new to IMSA
competition, and they are all very skilled,
or they wouldn’t have been chosen by
“It will be very difficult to get any real
edge on anybody and I expect to see
multiple winners this season. The
challenge with GT3 is that with all the
downforce and driver aids the cars have,
passing is very difficult, so it just makes
qualifying, pit stops, and minimizing
mistakes all that more important. We
are excited for that challenge ahead.”
If all the teams – the GTD veterans and
even the first-timers – have done their
pre-season homework, logged countless
miles in testing, then shaken and
tunneled their cars without mercy,
where might the final differentiator
between winning and losing be found?
“Decision making,” Shank exclaims. “If
you’ve done everything possible outside
the car, the last place to look is inside that
cockpit between the green flag and the
checkers. Our drivers have to be better
decision makers, period.”
Acura, with its torquey, twin-turbo V6
powerplant, pitted against Lexus and its
brawling RC F, challenged by Mercedes-
AMG and its nightmare-inducing V8
engine, would be a brilliant match all on
its own. But throw the tried and potent
R8s, M6 GT3s, 488 GT3s, Huracán GT3s
and 911 GT3 Rs into the GTD cage, and
it’s going to be one heck of a rumble.
(LEFT) Audi R8-
looking forward to
the challenge of even
more competition in
GTD for 2017.
“It will be very difficult to
get any real edge on anybody
and I expect to see multiple
[GTD] winners this season”
Paul Miller Racing put the Lamborghini Huracan into the
winner’s circle in the car’s debut GTD season last year.
Expect even more from the Lambo ranks this time around.
Fluidity is a defining trait in endurance
racing, and in IMSA’s GT Daytona class,
the men and women inside the cockpit
are evolving to meet the ever-changing
demands behind the wheel.
Simply driving at the limit is no
longer enough; assisting critical race
strategy decisions on the fly is now part
of the routine. Yes, teams still have their
head coaches on pit lane, but drivers
are being asked to play a greater role in
executing the game plan, as defending
GTD champion Christina Nielsen says
of her Ferrari-affiliated entrant.
“Scuderia Corsa is one of the best
teams in the paddock when it comes to
strategy. Having to make sudden changes
to get the best out of a situation –
that’s one of the beauties of this team.
“As a driver, you’re not always aware
of what’s happening on-track with
other cars and with pit stops because
you don’t have the information that
they have access to in the pit lane.
“Trusting the people who are in the
pits to help me with what I can’t see is
so important. At Watkins Glen last year,
after communicating what we were
seeing and feeling with the car, the team
made a strategic choice on tires and fuel
that was different compared to the other
teams. That benefited us and we were
able to overtake the others in pit lane.
The two-way communication with
strategy makes this possible.”
For teams like Scuderia Corsa, strategy calls
are not just the preserve of the guys on the
pit wall. Drivers are heavily in the loop, too.
Dane Nielsen is the
first female to win
a Weather Tech
earning 2016 GTD
class honors with
2017 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW