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John Dagys

After contesting the entire 2010 season on Cellulosic E85 Ethanol, both Corvette Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports have switched back to E10 fuel for this weekend’s season opener.

With E10-fueled GT cars receiving a 2 percent larger air restrictor, to counteract the slight advantage E85 can produce, many teams began weighing their options as to where the advantage may now be, including the Doug Fehan-led Corvette outfit.

“When that came out, it caused everybody, not just us, to immediately go on the dyno and run the power comparisons between E10 and E85,” Fehan said. “The 2 percent was a good number, at least in our case as there was no discernible power difference with our engine.”

While IMSA had been pushing for E10-fueled teams to have an additional 10kg of ballast, to make up for the weight of the 20 liters of additional fuel E85 cars carry, there will be no weight adjustments here this weekend in light of it being an ILMC event.

Fehan, who said the team’s simulation software predicts a 0.150 seconds per lap gain in E10 configuration, stressed that the decision was purely performance-based and that he hopes they’ll return to E85 later this year.

“This is not to diminish the importance of our Celluolosic E85 program because we were initiators with it and we’re huge supporters of it,” he said. “But our primary charge is obviously to compete and win races. And if the rules are such that they place you at a distinct disadvantage, you simply have to move off of that.”

Both Flying Lizard and Team Falken Tire have also reverted back to E10, based on Porsche’s decision to focus its efforts this weekend in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the alternative fuel is not permitted.

“As Porsche manages the engine side of things, it was largely their decision,” said Flying Lizard Motorsports team manager Eric Ingraham. “Obviously they weighed the options and made the decision that E10 was the best choice. We gave them our thoughts on it. Obviously the powertrain groups knows best as they do the dyno work.”

While BMW Motorsport as well as the Ferrari F458s from Risi Competizione and Extreme Speed Motorsports have elected to stay with E85 for now, all GT teams will have to contest with smaller fuel rig restrictors. Ingraham estimates it will take cars an additional 5 seconds to fill their tanks during pit stops.
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