Nerd’s Eye View: SEMA 2013 – Part I



Next year, the P2 and Daytona Prototype cars will be placed in the same class in the United SportsCar Racing series (merger of ALMS and Grand-Am). I believe the original overriding intent of the DP car was to be cost effective. I basically consider it a mid-engine NASCAR stock car. Aerodynamically, the DP cars are waaaaaay behind on aero (the whole being cost effective thing) and are being fitted with a half million dollar aero package to try to equalize their performance with the P2 cars. Continental Tire conveniently had both cars next to each other in their booth allowing us a side-by-side comparison.
Looking at the front ends, well, it’s quite apparent the Mazda P2 car has significantly more complex aero. Just to list a few things I see: splitter, dive planes, nose, lower central body profile resulting in the protruding wheel wells.
The lower profile of the P2 car body is again evident at the rear of the cars. The DP’s rear decklid is basically at an even height with the top of the rear wheels whereas the P2 car is much lower. I think the P2 car effectively has a significantly smaller frontal area.
Underbody aero is where I suspect the DP cars will have to undergo major changes; basically, the old car doesn’t appear to have any underbody aero. I did get a great view of the rear transaxle and suspension bits though. It’s also interesting to see how the wing mounts bolt to the transaxle. Look at the P2 car in comparison however, and you can see there are significant challenges involved in getting the DP car to match. The P2 has some big underbody tunnels along with the aero features behind the rear tires.
Checking out the rear haunches of the cars, well, they are drastically different. Again, the P2 car has the overall slimmer profile.

Looking at the forward half of the P2 car, it is evident the significant effort in directly the airflow through the car. Whereas I liken the DP car to a mid-engine stock car, I think of the LeMans prototypes as F1 cars with wheel pods and closed canopies. It’ll be very interesting to see what the DP cars will look like with their updated aero to match the performance of the P2 cars.

In the Akrapovic exhaust booth is the king of all Prototype cars, the Audi R18 Ultra…

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