Photo Credit: John Dagys

Photo Credit: John Dagys

A notable step towards the finalization of the United SportsCar Racing technical regulations was made this week, as series officials completed its first wind tunnel test for a car.

Fresh off a podium finish in last weekend’s American Le Mans Series race at Road America, the No. 01 HPD ARX-03b was taken to Windshear in Concord, N.C. for the a test at the state-of-the-art, rolling-road wind tunnel.

The purpose of the test, according to Scot Elkins, vice president, competition and technical regulations for , was to evaluate multiple aerodynamic configurations as the series continues its balance of performance process between P2 cars, Daytona Prototypes and the DeltaWing, which will compete together in the top Prototype class in 2014.

“We ran a Le Mans [aero] kit and then we ran the normal, high-downforce kit,” Elkins told SPEED in an exclusive interview. “Then we ran multiple settings within those two.

“After that, we actually did a few extra runs with the [high-downforce] kit, actually pulling things off it, to see what kind of changes we could make within that… to give us data points in case we need to make changes to it.”

“I think we found what we needed to find and I don’t think we’ll go farther than that. It’s still not 100 percent defined, but we’re closer than ever before of getting that data together and making a match.”

While the wind tunnel test was only completed with the Wirth Research-designed prototype, currently the lone P2 model competing in the U.S., Elkins said the performance levels of all cost-capped Le Mans prototypes are similar based on their homologation.

“We have plenty of data and we wanted to get the P2 data,” he said. “We’ll now use those data points to help finalize our CFD and sim work we’re doing. We should be able to get some feedback from the teams and constructors within the next week or so. The feedback will determine what our next step will be.”

With P2 wind tunnel data in the bank, Elkins said the focus will now shift to consulting with Daytona Prototype manufacturers on proposed changes to those cars before validating them in the wind tunnel. He anticipates that process being completed within the next month prior to on-track testing shortly after.

“We have to do it in that kind of timeframe in order to hit our targets,” Elkins said. “The goal is to have the DPs gain speed and be faster than the rest of the field. It’s not necessarily to match it with the P2. It’s to get that gap. Once we get the gap, we’ll start matching with the other car.”

Despite some team owners in the paddock having hoped for a side-by-side DP/P2 test following last weekend’s double-header at Road America, Elkins said that was never an option given their timeframe.

By the same token, allowing a P2 car to run in Saturday’s Rolex Series race at Kansas Speedway, as Level 5 Motorsports had proposed, wouldn’t have produced any additional information that the series already knows, according to the IMSA tech chief.

“Without applying any of the changes to the cars, it wouldn’t have us any good to run any kind of back to back [test],” Elkins said. “Everybody wanted that to happen but we weren’t ready yet. Track testing is super difficult to validate changes we’re trying to do. You need to do the stuff in the sim and CFD, then a wind tunnel before you go to the track.”

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