Guess what day it is? GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS?! –Friday! And you know what that means, another series on the United SportsCar Championship™ for Rookies. Last week we jumped right into what the flags mean before, during and after a United SportsCar race, because without flag knowledge you might as well be blind - just being honest folks!
This week we will be covering the in’s-and-out’s of qualifying procedures. Qualifying is absolutely critical in any auto racing sport, not just United SportsCar. It determines where each car will be gridded for the start of the race. The advantage of having a better starting position can pay huge dividends as the race unfolds.
Now, this tends to get a little confusing, but don’t you worry rookies, we will take it nice and slow.
In between multiple practice sessions usually lasting at least an hour, and a race lasting anywhere from two to 24 hours in duration comes a 15-minute qualifying session.
It is a time for team strategy and split-second decisions which is divided into 15-minute sessions (as mentioned above) for each racing class. Here is the list of classes >> United SportsCar Racing Classes. Also, only one driver per car is allowed to qualify. The most important thing throughout the qualifying session is timing, it’s like oxygen for humans –drivers NEED the best time.
Competitors factor in how many laps it takes to get their tires up to optimal temperature for the best grip and hold, along with how traffic on the circuit will affect each lap. Drivers must be conscious about when to enter the circuit in order to achieve their fastest lap or if they should hold back and wait, hoping for a traffic-free lap.
According to imsa.com, “drivers may come in and out of the pits in order to make minimal changes with the permission of IMSA officials. If a driver causes a caution period during qualifying, that driver will lose the fastest lap they had achieved up to that point.”
Heaven forbid the qualifying is canceled, race grids will be set by driver points.
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