With 48 entries taking to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit, there is nowhere to hide for Sunday’s Battle on the Bricks, a 2h40m contest in IMSA’s first return to the Racing Capital of the World since 2014.
There has been a lot of talk around the paddock about how technical the layout at the IMS Road Course is. When asked by Motorsport.com following opening practice if that makes managing traffic more difficult than any other track, both believe it’s a major factor this weekend.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” said Campbell, who led overall after a flying lap of 1m15.184s in the #7 Penske-run Porsche 963. “At least, from my side, being in the GTP car, being such a short track, 48 cars, traffic management’s going to be key and not rushing too much because there’s only a few limited passing opportunities.
“In some sections you’ve really just got to be patient and wait because I think if you do go for a move, even for us, we’re actually going to lose more time than sitting behind just for a little bit overtaking and on the next straight in some sections of track.
“So, it’s going to be really difficult in the race. And track position in the race, for us coming from qualifying, will be one of the most important aspects of our entire weekend.
“Yeah, we’ve got to get a good qualifying position because we need to be upfront to be able to help manage that well.”
Hawksworth provided the vantage point from the GTD Pro class, where he was fastest in class (27th overall) with a 1m23.636s lap in the #14 Lexus RC F GT3 for Vasser Sullivan.
“To be honest, the track itself is not that technical, but it’s difficult,” Hawksworth said. “There’s a couple of sections, [Turns] 7, 8, 9, 10, where when you got GT cars and Prototypes together, they can’t really get by at that point.
“It can be a big advantage for them or big advantage for us if we’re able to keep them behind and kind of use ’em as a bit of a pick between us and other GT cars. Those sections of the track, I think [Turns] 7, 8, 9, 4 and Chicane will be quite tricky in the race.
“The traffic management may be a bit more so than any of the other track we go to.”
Additionally, the lack of grip off the racing line presents a challenge on overtaking.
“I think we’ll have to see how the weekend evolves,” Campbell added. “Already, from practice one, looking at quite a few sections of track, especially in the last corner where it could be a possible overtake or on the outside of some GT cars I think is going to get possibly less and less going into the race due to so much dirt and debris off-line, I was quite surprised starting the session just how dirty it was off-line.
“And that’s just one example. I feel like the working window’s just going to get narrower and narrower to be able to place our cars in places where we can go around the outside.”