Series offers great racing

Competitors in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship recently took to the track for the first time with a pair of two-day tests to prepare for the inaugural 2014 season.

It marked the first official test for the Daytona Prototypes at Sebring International Raceway last Saturday and Sunday, while P2, Prototype Challenge (PC) and the DeltaWing ran laps for the first time at Daytona International Speedway.

"I've driven in both series, and they've both done everything right," said Bill Auberlen, driver for BMW Team RLL and for Turner Motorsport in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series last season. "This is the best sports car racing in the world, under one roof. It's fantastic as a driver to be able to experience that with everyone else for the first time."

The next scheduled test for the unified series will be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 3-5, with the Rolex 24 At Daytona set for Jan. 25-26.

A total of 5,645 laps (20,096.2 miles) were turned over two days of testing on Daytona's 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course.

The Daytona sessions followed two days at Sebring International Raceway.

Since the green flag dropped on the first Sebring session last Saturday morning, a total of 30,642.26 testing miles were recorded.

Action Express Racing led five cars in the Prototype (P) class at Sebring with a lap of 1:53.266 seconds, and also led the Tuesday session at Daytona with a lap of 1:39.623 in the No. 5 Corvette DP - bettering Jorg Bergmeister's two-year-old official track record of 1:40.099 for the class.

The Elan-powered DeltaWing DWC13 that races in the Prototype class lapped Daytona for the first time and recorded the fastest lap of the day at 1:40.830 with Katherine Legge behind the wheel.

"I had no idea what to expect at Daytona in the DeltaWing on the banking, but it's been good and competitive," Legge said. "I'm excited that the two series have merged into a mega series. We're excited, both for the series and the car."

Pickett Racing, the 2013 ALMS P1 champion, fielded a PC class car at the Sebring test, turning in the fastest lap of 1:58.035.

Performance Tech Motorsports led the class at Daytona with a lap of 1:42.830 (124.633 mph) by the No. 38 ORECA FLM09/Chevrolet.

SRT Vipers led both of the GT groups at Sebring.

The No. 93 Viper GTS-R led the GTLM class with a lap of 2:01.619, while the Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R led GTD with a lap of 2:04.539.

At Daytona, the No. 93 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R also led the GTLM competitors with a lap of 1:46.912, while the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 was fastest in GTD, 1:48.747.

With the merger, the classes of race cars has been reduced to four. There is Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD). Tentative maximum entries for each class for the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2014 are the following: P Class maximum is currently set at 20 cars, PC Class at 10, GTLM at 14 and GTD at 19.

In some cases, such as Paul Miller Racing, the teams aren't just testing a new car but getting acquainted with a new manufacturer.

For the past six years, Bryce Miller of Paul Miller Racing drove Porsches. This year they moved to the GTD class and will be driving the Audi R8 LMS.

"We stepped down a category into this new GTD," said Miller. "And it's showing to be a really healthy category so far. There is a lot of manufacturer participation here with Audi, Aston Martin, and Viper, so it's really good for the championship and it's good for this category."

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship begins in Daytona with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 23-26.

After that they head to Sebring for the 12 Hours of Sebring March 12-15 at the Sebring International Raceway.