By Don Baumbach

– With any sport, there are key moments that help shape the outcome of the event. Football, for example, two teams playing with one ball. The key moments are easy to follow, whether you are spectator or player. When the contest is over, you know the final score and you know the storyline. You will know how the game was won, as it was all played out right in front of you.

But with endurance racing, there are between 30 and 40 teams spread out across miles of track. In and out of the pits, all on differing strategies. It’s impossible to observe/monitor ALL of the teams over a 6-, 8-, 12, or 24-hour race. There’s just too much going on. Sure, the final results will show you where all the teams finished. And while that is important, it doesn’t really help with the storyline, or provide insight into out how they got there.

Some teams are thoughtful enough to share their race report, but even those reports can be qualitative rather than quantitative, and leave a lot unanswered. What was their relative pace to all the other in their class? Was it a consistent pace, or did it vary by driver? What stage of the race did they encounter problems (disconnect or repairs)? Were they double- or triple-stint on tyres?

To satisfy my curiosity, I put together this chart to analyze our performance relative to our class rivals. It serves as a great race summary.

Car #220 chart from S11 VEC Indy.
Car #220 chart from S11 VEC Indy. Click the image for the full sized chart.

This chart is constructed by comparing lap times to an appropriate “baseline”. For Indianapolis, I set a “baseline” for LMP2 class at 83 seconds. I compare each actual lap to the baseline and come up with the “delta” (actual laptime – baseline), and then I run a cumulative total of the delta for each of the laps.

Then create a line chart, with x-axis = Lap number, and y-axis = cumulative delta.

Charting just a single team, this should appear as a series of steps, where each step represents a stint. If the horizontal part of the step is sloping down ward, the team has a pace faster than the baseline. If the slope is up, the pace is slower than baseline. Each vertical rise indicates a pit stop. A short vertical rise is fuel only (58 seconds).  A longer vertical rise is fuel and tyres (96 seconds). A longer rise would indicate a major repair or disconnect.

If you plan on making one for yourself, note that the official results may have some missing laps (due to cut track or disconnects). If you want an accurate chart, you will need to analyze the replay to get those missing lap times.

One of the drivers from within our SHQM team made a great comment, “Every time you look at it, you see something else that it’s telling you”.

We thought the other teams in VEC Division 3 LMP2 class might be interested in this analysis, so as a kind gesture to our rivals, we plan on including this analysis in our race reports throughout Season 11.

We’ll see you on the track!

– Don