The introduction of the LMP2 class and forthcoming changes to the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship were the impetus for refinements to the 2019 IMSA Sporting Regulations just released. (See AutoInformed on All Female Driver Teams to Enter IMSA GT3 and GTD Championship 2019, Fix! IMSA Takes Pro Wrestling Approach to Mollify Owners)
“Between the completion of a successful 2018 season last month and next week’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring, our team here at IMSA has hit another key target with the distribution of our 2019 Sporting and Technical Regulations,” said IMSA Vice President, Competition Simon Hodgson. “This is a direct response to our stakeholders’ expectations, who now will be armed with all the information they need to make their plans to participate in 2019.”
Announced in August as part of IMSA’s annual “State of the Series” presentation at Road America, the WeatherTech Championship will expand to four classes in 2019 with Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars racing exclusively in the top class and LMP2 moving to its own, Pro-Am class, alongside the longstanding GT Le Mans (GTLM) class designed for Pro racers and the Pro-Am GTD class.
That expansion, as well as the August announcement of the new IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup – which is exclusive to the GTD class in 2019 and has seven races that are two-hours, 40-minutes in length or shorter – created the need for new regulations. Among them:
- LMP2 and GTD teams both will be required to have a Silver- or Bronze-rated driver in the lineup for each car.
- Any Silver-rated driver that is new to the WeatherTech Championship will be subject to approval by the IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee before a team’s entry will be accepted.
- On each event weekend, there will be an exclusive practice session prior to qualifying for Bronze- and Silver-rated drivers in the GTD class.
- Bronze- or Silver-rated drivers will be required to qualify and start the race in the LMP2 and GTD classes.
- The season-ending Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards for the top Pro-Am driver in the LMP2 (Trueman) and GTD (Akin) classes will be awarded to the highest-placed eligible driver in the season-ending point standings. In previous years, Trueman and Akin award winners were determined by a formula that included laps and miles driven in addition to overall finishing positions.
- IMSA will specify the number of drivers required in each LMP2 and GTD entry in 2019. For all sprint races, each entry will be required to have two drivers with a maximum of one Platinum- or Gold-rated driver. For the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans, each LMP2 and GTD car will be required to use a three-driver combination with a maximum of one Platinum- or Gold-rated driver. For the Rolex 24 At Daytona, LMP2 and GTD teams may use four-or five-driver combinations, with a maximum of one Platinum- and one Gold-rated driver or a maximum of two Gold-rated drivers.
- LMP2 and GTD entries will be limited to four days of private testing per entry in 2019.
- The GTD class will only participate in the first two days of the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona test on Jan. 4-5, 2019. The Roar will be the only IMSA-sanctioned test in 2019.
Outside of the LMP2- and GTD-focused regulations, the DPi and GTLM class will see a reduction in private testing to eight days per entry in 2019. In addition, the Michelin tires used by all WeatherTech Championship cars will be equipped with RFID chips to track tire usage and allocation per entry at all events.
Key modifications in 2019 for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge include the shift to Michelin tires for all Grand Sport (GS) and Touring Car (TCR) race cars and the discontinuation of the Street Tuner (ST) class. The series will introduce leader lights similar to what has been used in the WeatherTech Championship since the series’ inception in 2014. Additional changes include a new requirement for all cars to start the race on the same marked tires it uses in qualifying and the introduction of tire allocations for each entry.
The IMSA Prototype Challenge, which moves to Michelin tires and LMP3 cars exclusively in 2019, will have two, three-hour races in 2019 at Daytona International Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Teams will be required to have two drivers for endurance races and have the option of using a third driver. Any three-driver combinations will be required to have at least one Bronze-rated driver.
The minimum pit stop time in IMSA Prototype Challenge will be reduced to two minutes, 30 seconds from the four-minute minimum used in 2018. All fueling will be required to be done by autonomous tanks (no dump cans). Drivers may stay in the car and teams will be allowed to work on the cars while fueling.
With a single-class format, there will be no “wave-bys” during full-course caution periods. The IMSA Prototype Challenge also will introduce a new “Bronze Cup” championship in 2019 for cars using Bronze-rated drivers exclusively.
No material changes were made to the sporting regulations for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, but the Canadian series will see the introduction of a “Silver” class in 2019. The new class will use Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars and will compete at every event except for Montreal in June.