In the US, hardly any other race track is more steeped in history than Daytona. For over 60 years, the name has been synonymous with motorsport. No wonder, because Daytona Beach is considered to be the birthplace of NASCAR. Which is exactly whatDaytona International Speedway, just a few kilometres away, was originally built for. Not to mention touring cars and GT sports:the so-called “sports car course” was created back in 1959. A version of the circuit that leaves the tri-oval at two points to head for the infield peppered with bends and chicanes. The 24h of Daytona has been held on this repeatedly modified race track since 1966. Today, the course is 5.73 kilometres long and, as well as its steep turns, is best known for its huge grandstand that can accommodate over100,000 spectators. Here are some tips on how to impress them with rapid lap times, from Porsche works driver, Laurens Vanthoor.
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona is the only track in the IMSA SportsCar Championship to consist of a combination of a high-speed oval and normal circuit. Up to 31° banking in the steep turns of the NASCAR tri-oval allows high cornering speeds and thus an extremely high average speed.
The Daytona International Speedway doesn’t have a traditional starting/home straight, as the course begins with a long, fast left-hand turn. Due to its high speeds and ample space on the track, this is the best place to overtake. The slipstream is a great place to sneak up on your opponents. But be careful when exiting the bend and transitioning to section 2.
Switching from the oval to the infield is tricky. Here, the banking mergesinto the normal, flat race track, meaning that you need to brake gently into the bend, because lower cornering speeds are possible as the banking diminishes.Crossing the inside of the tighter left-hand turn in second gear will take you close to the boundary wall. Then you approach the outside, picking up speed for the following right-left combination that you can drive through at full throttle without any problem.
After a short straight, you come to the right-hand “International Horseshoe” bend. The slowest curve of the entire track. Take this in first gear, making sure that you don’t turn in too late or approach from too far left. Set the cornering radius so that you drive as close to the inside as possible, because that’s where there’s most grip.
A straight leads into bend four - passing the so-called “Porsche Platz” on the left. This slight left-hand curve is extremely easy to navigate and very quick. Ideally take a widening line as you exit, in order to position yourself directly in the middle of the track. This is important for the next bend. Which is extremely broad, so you can brake throughout, while driving a very wide line. And thereby maintaining high speed. Be careful, the curb at the exit is bumpy and can make the car unstable. Bend six is then the final curve before the oval, where the main thing is to pick up as much speed as possible in preparation for the oval. Which is not easy, as the exit is uneven.
Bend seven is the Daytona oval’s famous steep curve with incredible 31-degree banking. Where the following applies: “slow is low” – slower cars make room for faster vehicles, by driving further down the bend. This left-hand curve can be driven at full throttle – buying some time to check the systems or provide the team with information.
Now it’s full speed ahead to the famous “Bus Stop” chicane, where it’s important to brake late – at the “1” sign on the right-hand fence, for instance. Then change down into fourth, picking up as much speed as possible ahead of the left-hand bend. Make sure you catch the turning points from the first and second left-hand bends – and ignore the one in the right-hand curve in-between. Step on the throttle again, as quickly as possible.Every second counts for the following high-speed section, where you can gain up to half a second in the slipstream.