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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Racing or Wrestling?

EDITORIAL

I have always been naive.  I must have been 13 years old before I figured out that "professional wrestling" was actually rigged.  Now image how upset I am to discover that the results of the ALMS racing and the new series, IMSA Tudor, have been rigged by behind-the-scenes rules that alter the performance of the cars.  The fiddling by the race managers is called "Balance of Performance" or "BoP".

The overall goal is to make the cars, Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Viper, etc.  "competitive".  The various cars are helped or handicapped by adding or removing weight, increasing or decreasing the fuel tank capacities, and increasing or decreasing the intake restrictors.  You would think that at the beginning of the season adjustments would be made and then the IMSA people would leave things alone.  Not true.

You will remember how flabbergasted I was in the 2014 season when Corvette started the season dominating the field, and then, suddenly Corvette was finishing at the back of the pack!?


Well, now we know why!  The IMSA boys moved the goal posts!

Some race officials have been overheard to say things like, "We need to spread the wins around."  In the above graph you can see that the Viper team wasn't competitive early on. Then BoP adjustments were made to "encourage" them to remain in the the GTLM class.  They finished 2014 in top form, but dropped out of the GTLM class in 2015 to race in the next level down.

This punishment against Corvette continued in 2015.  Again, after dominating early in the season, the Corvettes were saddled with more weight than any other manufacturer, and allowed to carry less fuel than any of the competition.  Last year the situation got so bad that Jan Magnussen, Corvette team driver, finally expressed his frustration publicly.  Here is a clip from a September 11, 2015 article by Sam McEachern:

Jan Magnussen writes frequent columns for Motorsport.com, and this week used the space to address the unfair Balance of Performance rules being handed down to the Corvette Racing team as the 2015 TUDOR United Sportscar Championship season begins to come to a close.


You may have noticed Corvette Racing’s No. 3 and No. 4 C7.Rs finished uncharacteristically far back in the running order at the recent Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR. This is because series rule makers have slapped the car with Balance of Performance adjustments designed to give Corvette Racing more of a challenge, putting them at a significant disadvantage to the Porsches and Ferraris.


As a result of these BoP adjustments, the Corvette C7.R is currently the heaviest car on the GTLM grid with the smallest fuel tank. (note:  Porsche is now heavier)  Magnussen says they are a victim of their own success, with IMSA likely sticking them with the BoP adjustments after their wins at Daytona and Sebring earlier in the year.

“It’s frustrating as hell,” Magnussen writes. “But that’s what we got, and it will be what we have at COTA and Petit Le Mans. We’ll just have to make the most of it and make sure that we’ve done all that we can.”


The situation was so egregious in 2015 that the Corvette fans started a petition to protest the BoP penalty against Corvette Racing:

2015 Petition by Corvette Fans 

But all the complaining didn't make any difference.  Although Corvette swept the three endurance races in 2015, the BoP adjustments handicapped the team for the entire 2015 season, as depicted below: 



So what can we expect in 2016 after the Corvette 1 - 2 finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona?  You guessed it!  More restrictions.  We are told that the BOP adjustments against Corvette will be an increase of 10Kg of weight (22 pounds) and a 0.4mm smaller intake restrictor for the second race.  Hopefully these changes will not make the Corvettes noncompetitive in 2016!

Maybe we can get Hulk Hogan to help out!?

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