Local teams make switch to new generation prototypes

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida: Local team VisitFlorida.com Racing spent years and years developing and massaging the Daytona Prototype Chevrolet Corvette and darn near won the 2015 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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That particular style of car is now obsolete under 2017 IMSA rules, which now fall more in line with global standards.

Out with the old DP Corvette and in with the new No. 90 Multimatic Riley Gibson LMP2 machine, which looks like something from a Star Wars movie.

“It’s part of this industry,” said Troy Flis, who owns VisitFlorida.com Racing. “There’s always a moving target. There is always re-engineering. Some people might want to keep the same thing. Not me.”

“One of the reasons I’m in this sport is I like the challenge. I like coming here with a brand-new product and figuring out how to make it go around here for 24 hours,” he said.

More than two dozen race teams tested new equipment over Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile (5.7-kilometer) road course last week.

They will all return January 6-8 for the Roar Before The Rolex 24. That test will be open to the public.

The top two IMSA Daytona Prototype teams, which each have local connections, had to make the changeover from old style to state-of-the-art.

Action Express Racing, which is owned by local businessman Bob Johnson, scrapped its Corvettes in favor of the new Cadillac DPi-V.R in order to stay in the General Motors family.

Action Express has a race shop in North Carolina. VisitFlorida.com is based on the north end of downtown Daytona Beach.

Both are scrambling to familiarize themselves with this new-fangled package, which just arrived in the last month, and prep for one of the world’s most grueling races some six weeks from now.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona is scheduled January 28-29 and these teams will likely work around the clock until then to sort these cars out.

“It’s like oil and water,” said Gary Nelson, Action Express team manager comparing this year’s cars to 2017 models. “They both have four tires, steering wheel and brakes, but they start getting separated really quick after that.”

“The chassis is completely carbon fiber, where our other chassis was metal tubing. The aerodynamics has way, way more downforce than what we were used to seeing. The car is a lot lighter,” he added.

The Daytona Prototypes that raced for the Rolex 24’s overall victory in January this year are now being shipped to museums around the world or being sold to people who might race them in historic events.

TNS

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