As the only combination oval-road course on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, Daytona International Speedway (DIS) offers a unique and challenging start to the 2015 GT Le Mans (GTLM) class season. Of the 12-turns that constitute the 3.56-mile high-banked track, it is Turn One that Bryan Sellers sees as the critical corner for the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 24-25. All 24 hours of racing will funnel through the narrowing corner and the winner will likely have more than one moment that could have dashed it all. For the challenge, the Braselton, Georgia-resident will share the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR with the longtime teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California).
"The history at Daytona is so immense; you can point to every corner and remember some great motorsports moment whether it's on the oval or in the infield road course. So, picking one corner to call my favorite isn't easy. However, I'll have to say Turn One. I really like the difficulty of the turn. It has it all. It feels like a funnel dumping you from top-speed at the start-finish line into the slower pace and precision of the infield. It is challenging for the setup, but if you get it right, it pays off all over the track. It isn't easy to get right and that appeals to me!
From a technical standpoint, Turn One has a very high-speed approach into a heavy braking zone. It is a constant, left-hand bend down into the corner. That makes it difficult because you need to brake late and use a lot of brake pressure but, because you're turning the car, it is really difficult to keep it balanced. You have to be precise so you don't generate too much oversteer in the car on the way in. As if that isn't enough to occupy you, the track itself is difficult in that area. You're coming off the Daytona banking into the road course, so there is a bump on the transition. The timing to get over the bump properly is so important. It is very easy to carry too much brake over the bump and create an imbalance in the car. You have to be really heads-up. Experience and track knowledge pays off with these transitions.
I also like the intricacies of the line in 'One'. It is very important to get your line right or you can lose a few tenths through the middle of the corner. It is blind to the apex. The sight line is very difficult so you have to go off a lot of muscle memory. You have to remember where you place the car to try and get to the apex.
It is also a difficult corner in terms of accelerating coming off the corner. It is very tight at the apex. It closes down as you get towards the apex. You are adding more steering while simultaneously trying to accelerate out of the corner which makes traction difficult. It is a balancing corner and, for me, those are always the most exciting ones. The corners where you have to be good on the way in, manage the car through the corner and pick and choose which area you want to be strong on.
It is an important corner setup-wise as well. If you have a car that is good in Turn One, you can trust it will be a good car in the other corners as well. That's because you have to have stability on the entry of the corner which ultimately pays dividends at the 'Kink' or the 'Bus Stop'. But you also have to have a car that has good traction coming off which is what you want at all your hairpins (turns three, five and six).
As a driver, the fun comes in the passing opportunities in Turn One! It is a corner you can really out-brake somebody and you can do it from either side of the track, inside or outside. You have some room on the outside which really allows you to take some chances. You can try and go around people, not just inside them. It makes for exciting racing. Anyone who has watched a race here knows how you can have a car from every class all trying to get to the same point on the track at the same time. It can be pretty intense and you have to watch in every direction! It adds another aspect to the race-ability of Daytona. For me, it is the best passing opportunity at the track because it is the highest speed approach to one of the slowest speed corners. There isn't much not to like about Turn One."
The 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona can be seen in its entirety on the FOX and IMSA family of networks. The broadcast will open ten-minutes before the race's start at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the FOX Network. At 4 p.m. ET it will transition to FOX Sports 2 and will move to FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. The overnight hours of the race can be seen on IMSA TV at IMSA.com with live video streaming and commentary until 7 a.m. when it will move back to FOX Sports 1 where Sunday viewers can watch live until the post race celebrations. IMSA.com will provide audio coverage of every on-track lap, including practice and qualifying while video streaming of qualifying will be available on the IMSA web site beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday, January 22.