In this edition of our WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WTSC) round table we take a look at the streets of Detroit and the famed, Belle Isle. The second, and final, street circuit of the 2017 IMSA season looks simple on the surface but is more complex than it appears. We talked to Jordan Taylor, driver of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, and Jeff Segal, driver of the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Here’s their insight:
Q: What challenges does a track like Detroit present?
J. Taylor: Detroit is compared to Long Beach as a street course which is difficult for drivers and teams, there’s no room for error, it’s bumpy, and it’s very abrasive so you have to have a car that works well mechanically. It’s not super aero-dependent so you’re working mainly on the mechanical side of it to understand how to use the tire properly and how to get the most out of it. We’ve had a good history there but mostly with our old Daytona Prototype so hopefully we can go there this year with a strong car. We had a good car at Long Beach this year and we won there, so I think we can take a lot of what we learned there to Detroit.
Segal: Detroit is a tricky one. Very, very bumpy, lots of changes of pavement. You’ve got to have your car really dialed in well there. I think that will be an interesting one for us. Long Beach was pretty good and Detroit is more like Long Beach than it is other places but it has its own character – some elevation change and some weird pavements there. I’m looking forward to it and I’m cautiously optimistic.
Q: What is the tire strategy for a race at Detroit?
J. Taylor: It’s nice to have the 100 minute races where you know you’re only going to have one stop and it equals out on the stint length so you know you can push the whole way through. It’s frustrating when you have to either save fuel or save tires when you have to go long. The street course races are fun as a driver because normally you can push all the way through and not worry about fuel management or tire management.
Segal: Detroit is always track position so that’s where you start to push the tires harder and you really ask a lot from them in terms of longevity. I don’t know exactly what our strategy will be but I suspect there is a reasonable chance that people might look at doing the entire race on one set or just changes two tires depending on how quickly you can do your driver change. It’s a tough ask on the tires but it can pay off.
Q: What is your most memorable moment from Detroit?
J. Taylor: It’s probably been historically my best track – I think I’ve won four out of five times – but I would say the best one was winning with my brother in 2014 because that was our first win together. Just being there at the Renaissance Center for GM, it’s big for our team every year, so to win with my brother the first time we were teammates there was pretty special.
Segal: Definitely the podium in 2013. That was a great race for us, thought we could have won that one but passing is quite difficult there. But that was a good race.
Q: What can fans expect to see at this year’s Detroit race?
J. Taylor: I think Detroit, the way the race track is laid out and how our races go with traffic, makes it very interesting when the Prototypes get mixed in with GT cars. The last couple years what really dictates the end of the race is how you get through traffic and guys being optimistic, or opportunistic, in traffic. I think when there’s long green flag runs, fans can expect some excitement and inner-class battles.
Segal: A lot of elbows out racing. You can definitely make it a little more difficult for someone on a street circuit to pass and sometimes people what to force the issue. There’s no runoff’s, there’s just concrete barriers on both sides so if you’re going to force the issue. There’s going to be contact there’s going to be close racing so it’s going to be exciting.