Well, holy shit. The 2009 24 Hours of Daytona Rolex 24 at Daytona was one hell of a good race. I’m amazed by the pace of the Daytona Prototypes throughout the race — people who ought to know are calling it a sprint race that lasted 24 hours — and by the fact that, for the last 45 minutes or so under green, the top four — then three — then two cars were less than a second apart after a full day of racing. This one might’ve been the closest 24-hour endurance race ever. Seriously, if you didn’t watch it live, find a torrent or something of the last hour.
I started off on Friday cheering for the #16, mostly out of habit — hey, Timo Bernhard driving a Penske Porsche prototype… it’s like ALMS all over again — but they dropped out overnight with gearbox trouble. After that, I really had no choice but to transfer my enthusiasm to the #58 Brumos Porsche, what with David Donohue driving the last stint 40 years after his father won the race. Donohue and Juan-Pablo Montoya had a great battle for the last 45 minutes, picking their way through traffic and never getting any sort of separation, driving hard but keeping it clean, and Donohue eventually took the win with something like a 0.2-second margin of victory.
Yes, the 24 Hours of Daytona was spectacular enough to bump last week’s Formula One launch down to second place. This time, it’s BMW-Sauber’s F1.09:
Again, we see interesting front-end development (if not quite as æsthetically glorious as the Ferrari F60) with lots of fences to keep air out from under the nose. Since the centre section of the front wing is prohibited from generating downforce this year, they’re presumably trying to recoup as much as possible from the nose geometry itself — and keeping the air from the rest of the front wing out of there would help maintain low pressures and therefore downforce. The front suspension is also much more aggressively faired-in than we’ve seen on any car but the Williams (and that only in renders).
Like Ferrari and Toyota, BMW-Sauber are playing a bit fast and loose with the new regulations. Instead of putting up sidepod fences mirror mounts, they’re adding louvers everywhere they can get away with it:
- BMW-Sauber implement tiny louvers on sidepod (F1 Technical)
- Even more louvers on the F1.09 (F1 Technical)
I imagine we’ll either see a rules change to deal with this sort of thing or similar louvers on almost every car by mid-season.
Moving on to a different category of racing: the entry list for this year’s American Le Mans Series is taking shape over at Planet Le Mans.
LMP2 looks kinda silly without those RS Spyders, doesn’t it? Oh well.
LMP1 should be able to compensate. We get a new Audi prototype, the new Acura LMP1 car, and the new gasoline-electric hybrid Zytek LMP1 car.
GT1 is going away in mid-season, since only Corvette Racing wants to play and they’re getting bored.
But again, GT2 should be able to compensate. Generally the category has been dominated — numerically, at least — by Porsches, but this year we’re looking at some serious variety. We’ll get C6.R GT2s, eventually. There are quite a few Ferrari F430s on the entry list so far. We get to see a couple of BMW M3 GTRs. And for extra style points — a Dodge Viper, a Ford GT, a Panoz Esperante, and an Aston Martin Vantage.
I like the idea of a single prototype class and a single GT class, honestly. LMP2 (and, I think, GT2) was (were) designed as a smaller, cheaper class for privateers and independent teams to get involved in ALMS without needing big-budget aero, chassis, and engine development to compete. GT2 still fills that niche, but LMP2 — particularly with the Porsche and Acura prototypes — just ain’t there. I’d much rather see a single LMP class for works-backed all-out automotive awesomeness and a GT class populated by factory racers like the F430 GT2.
Or, say, like the 2009 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.
Porsche may not have things all their way this year, but I’d still expect to see a lot of this car. Which is fine, ’cause it’s pretty. The image link goes to Planet Le Mans’s analysis of the new car, but I’m just as happy to sit and stare at the photo.
Sorry for the lack of posts, folks; my muse has been AWOL since Friday.