Daytona 24 Hours: IMSA expects LMP2 and DP equality in race

LMP2s will be able to race with Daytona Prototypes in this weekend's Daytona 24 Hours despite lagging behind in qualifying, according to United SportsCar Championship rules boss Scot Elkins

Daytona 24 Hours: IMSA expects LMP2 and DP equality in race

The best P2 lap time in qualifying was nearly 1.6 seconds behind the pole-winning DP.

But Elkins, competition vice-president at USC sanctioning body IMSA, believes the differences in the two types of car that race together in the Prototype class will make for a competitive race.

Daytona 24 Hours qualifying report

"Qualifying is not the full picture, especially in a race that is 24 hours long: what we will see over the course of the 24 hours is a little bit different," he said.

"We feel pretty good about how the cars are going to race, despite the fact that there are some differences [in lap time]."

Elkins stated that tyre usage could be a significant factor in favour of the P2s.

"A P2 has a dramatic weight advantage and downforce advantage, so the way the P2 uses its tyres compared with the DP car could come into play," he explained.

The P2s are expected to double or even triple stint their Continental spec tyres, which could offer a major advantage in the first laps of a stint because they are already up to working temperature.

LMP2 DRIVERS PESSIMISTIC

Opinion among the P2 teams appears to be split on whether they can challenge the DPs in the USC opener, which kicks off at 2.10pm local time (7.10pm GMT).

Lucas Luhr, who set the quickest P2 time in qualifying aboard the Muscle Milk/Pickett Racing ORECA-Nissan 03, said: "I think we have got the best out of our package, so we have done everything we can do

"But we can't race them: as soon as we get in a bit of traffic they take off."

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Extreme Speed HPD driver David Brabham added: "In terms of speed we don't have anything to challenge the DPs; they are too fast for us.

"Our only chance is to try to stay in touch and have a clean race, and then see what happens."

But OAK Racing team principal Philippe Dumas reckoned that the P2s can take the fight to the DPs.

"We didn't expect to be super-strong here, but I think we can do something in the race," he said.

The picture in qualifying was clouded by problems for two of the three strongest P2s: OAK's Morgan-Nissan LMP2 lapsed onto seven cylinders for qualifying, while the Brabham ESM HPD also had engine problems.

Dumas reckoned that lead driver Olivier Pla would have been able to lap in the 1m39.2s bracket, which would have put him only one second off Alex Gurney's pole-winning GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Riley-Chevrolet Corvette DP.

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