IMSA releases sporting regulations for 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season…
The introduction of the LMP2 class and forthcoming changes to the GT Daytona class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship were the impetus for refinements to the 2019 IMSA Sporting Regulations, released today.
“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 DPi cars racing exclusively in the top class and LMP2 moving to its own, Pro-Am class, alongside the longstanding GT Le Mans 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 encapsulates 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, 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.
***Teams and drivers will become eligible for points once the first car crosses the start line after the completion of the scheduled formation lap, regardless if the starter has displayed the green flag. Previously, each car would only score points once it passes the start line upon the waving of the green flag.
***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.
Changes to IMSA Challenge, Development Series for 2019
Key modifications for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge include the shift to Michelin tires for all GS and TCR race cars and the discontinuation of the 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.
IMSA Prototype Challenge, which moves to Michelin tires and LMP3 cars exclusively in 2019, will feature 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 IPC 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. IPC 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.
John Dagys’ first notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24 weekend…
Date: January 3, 2019
***A total of 45 cars of the 47 cars slated for this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 arrived in the paddock Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, with both of the DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibsons not yet on-site as of Thursday evening.
***Sportscar365 understands that its European Le Mans Series-spec Oreca is en route from Miami, with shipping and customs delays for its LMP2 car used in the FIA World Endurance Championship casting doubts over its participation this weekend.
***While teams spent Thursday afternoon unloading and preparing for track action, drivers went through media day activities, which included photo shoots, TV interviews and other obligations.
***It provided the first glimpse of several high-profile drivers taking part in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, including Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Rubens Barrichello and Alex Zanardi.
***Alonso had a seat fitting in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R on Thursday afternoon, with the Spaniard and Kobayashi set to get their first laps in the DPi contender tomorrow.
***Kobayashi, meanwhile, made a visit to Wayne Taylor Racing’s shop in Indianapolis last month, along with co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, in preparation for his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut.
***Mazda Team Joest has a significantly different look to it, with an influx of staff from Multimatic combining with the German squad for the start of the season. It includes George Howard-Chappell as well as a number of other crew from the Ford WEC program.
***Howard-Chappell told Sportscar365 the additional staff, which have been involved in the Mazda RT24-P’s off-season development program, are currently only confirmed for the Rolex 24 due to clashes for the remainder of the WEC’s 2018-19 season.
***It’s understood the majority of the Multimatic staff are focused on the No. 77 Mazda DPi, which features only some of the updates this weekend, compared to the No. 55 car that has been the team’s development car to date.
***Among the other high-profile additions to the Joest/Multimatic operation include former Audi LMP1 engineers Leena Gade and Brad Kettler, while Jan Lange has replaced longtime Joest managing director Ralf Juttner as team manager.
***Lamborghini factory driver Marco Mapelli will complete Magnus Racing’s lineup for the Rolex 24, with the Italian joining full-season drivers Andy Lally and John Potter, plus Michelin Endurance Cup pilot Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 44 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
***Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell, meanwhile, has rounded out Park Place Motorsports’ lineup in its No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The Australian, who claimed GTE-Am class honors in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, is set for his Rolex 24 debut.
***Felipe Fraga will join Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating for the Michelin Endurance Cup races in the No. 33 Wynn’s throwback-liveried Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Silver-rated Brazilian replaces Luca Stolz in the lineup, due to Stolz’s promotion to Gold. Stolz, however, remains on board for the Rolex 24 as the team’s fourth driver.
***A revision has been made to the Balance of Performance, initially issued late last month, which sees the maximum engine speed of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 reduced from 7700 to 7500 RPM.
***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing looks set to also sport special liveries, at least for the Rolex 24, with both of the Ford GTs in bare white liveries this weekend. The cars ran in the same design during a private test at Daytona last month, which saw newly signed CGR IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist turn his first laps in the Multimatic-built GTLM contender.
***Manthey Racing, Herberth Motorsport and NGT Motorsport have joined forces to run the No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which will be driven by Sven Mueller, Klaus Bachler, Juergen Haering and car owner Steffen Goerig.
***While currently confirmed for Daytona only, NGT Motorsport team owner Ramez Wahab told Sportscar365 that a continuation of the program in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has not yet been ruled out and will likely be dependent on a strong result in the Rolex 24.
***The NGT-entered car is one of four 2019-spec Porsches set to take part in the race.
***Sportscar365 believes that the Florida-based team is also assisting the Via Italia Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 entry. The Brazilian squad, which campaigns a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the Brazilian GT Championship, took delivery of the brand-new Prancing Horse on Wednesday.
***A large contingent of on-air talent and production personnel from NBC Sports are on-site this weekend, ahead of the network’s first IMSA broadcast later this month. It’s understood an announcement on its Rolex 24 and season-long commentary team is expected this weekend and is set to include on-air talent from both its NASCAR and IndyCar broadcasts.
***Laurens Vanthoor and CORE autosport COO Morgan Brady are missing the Roar due to the expected births of their children. Ironically, both their wives had due dates of Dec. 31 and have yet to deliver. The Vanthoors are expecting their first child, with the second for the Bradys.
***Dirk Werner is also absent this weekend due to family reasons. The German is set to drive the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche in the race.
***LaSalle Solutions has come on board as the primary sponsor of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 for the Rolex 24. The Chicago-area based tech company has been a longtime partner of TRG, which will field two new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs in the Michelin Pilot Challenge season opener.
***Portuguese energy company Galp, meanwhile, has been named an associate sponsor of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, which will be driven by the full-season pairing of Portuguese drivers Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque.
***Puma has inked a deal with Porsche to become the “exclusive technical partner” for fireproof racing clothing as well as shoes, caps and luggage. The sports brand will equip all 24 factory, Young Professional and Junior drivers, including its new-for-2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship effort.
***On-track action gets underway on Friday, with two sessions for WeatherTech Championship competitors, as well as track activity for Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge, which holds its season-opening race on Saturday.
Ryan Myrehn wrote:Beatriz Tops GTD Roar Qual; P1’s Times Disallowed
Ana Beatriz is fastest in GTD qualifying following a penalty for P1 Motorsports…
date: January 5, 2019
Ana Beatriz was fastest in the GT Daytona Roar Before the 24 Qualifying session after P1 Motorsports had its times disallowed due to using a Gold-rated driver.
The P1 squad had Dominik Baumann behind the wheel and did set the fastest time, but by rule only Bronze and Silver-rated drivers were allowed to take part.
The penalty to P1 elevated Beatriz and the Meyer Shank Racing team to the top of the time charts and secured the best pit and garage selection of the GT Daytona class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Frankie Montecalvo was second for AIM Vasser Sullivan, while Trent Hindman and Ben Keating completed the top four for MSR and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, respectively.
The Spirit of Race team did a remarkable job to get their No. 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 out on track in the final moments after an incident for Paul Dalla Lana in the session that immediately preceded qualifying.
Also of note, Paul Miller Racing elected not to take part in the session.
John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24 weekend…
date: January 5, 2019
***Both the No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Evo returned to action Saturday afternoon at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 after colliding in the morning session.
***The Cadillac DPi sustained heavy front-end damage after Will Owen ran into the Ezequiel Perez Companc-driven Starworks Audi after the Argentinean checked up from the spinning No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi.
***Sebastian Saavedra has been confirmed as the fourth driver in the No. 18 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 for the Rolex 24 alongside Pastor Maldonado, Roberto Gonzalez and Ryan Cullen. The Colombian, who took part in the full season last year with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, has turned laps with the Elton Julian-led team this weekend.
***Julian indicated to Sportscar365 they are likely to enter its European Le Mans Series-based Oreca for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, although with a yet-to-be-determined driver lineup.
***Newly signed Chip Ganassi Racing NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was spotted in the paddock today as well as McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who’s here in support of Fernando Alonso.
***Owen Hayes is engineering the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R this weekend on a freelance basis. Hayes, who has worked within multiple positions with the German manufacturer, has remained as race director for Porsche Motorsport North America.
***GT Le Mans class entries are using Michelin’s current generation WEC tire options for the first time. At least five compounds will be on tap for 2019 including an IMSA-specific hard option, according to Michelin Motorsports North America director Chris Baker.
***Baker told Sportscar365 that Michelin had utilized the previous-generation WEC compounds to IMSA teams in seasons’ past, with the change now allowing GTLM teams such as Corvette Racing, Porsche GT Team and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing to be on the same tire options used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***Multiple tire options will again be offered to GTLM teams on each weekend, with a single pre-designated Michelin compound for the DPi, LMP2 and GT Daytona classes.
***AIM Vasser Sullivan has yet to finalize the third driver for its No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 for the remainder of the Michelin Endurance Cup races, with Silver-rated Austin Cindric unavailable for Sebring and Watkins Glen due to his NASCAR Xfinity Series commitments.
***Team principal Ian Willis told Sportscar365 they are in talks with several drivers for the seat, with the car’s fourth driver, Super GT ace Nick Cassidy, ineligible due to his Gold rating by the FIA.
***Coincidently, the No. 14 Lexus is the same chassis that 3GT Racing ran last year, also as the No. 14 car. The number holds significance to the manufacturer as being the favorite number of Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda, who races himself.
***After experimenting with two different livery options at last month’s Michelin On-Track Opportunity at Daytona, AVS Autosport has finalized the black and dayglo yellow design it will run on both Lexus entries this year.
***Honda Performance Development is in the “final throes” of negotiations for new customer takeovers of several first-generation Acura NSX GT3s, according to HPD COO Steve Eriksen. Both Meyer Shank Racing Acuras have been replaced with all-new chassis for 2019.
***It’s understood the ex-MSR cars could appear in Blancpain GT World Challenge America this year with the new customers. “I think we’ll see some things coming out here in the next few weeks that will be pretty positive,” Eriksen told Sportscar365.
***Eriksen said that a new production batch of NSX GT3 Evos is underway at JAS Motorsport in Italy in order to maintain stock for its North American customers as well as potential additional new sales in Europe and Asia.
***Starworks Motorsport could expand into a two-car Audi operation for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races, with team principal Peter Baron revealing that he’s in discussions with several drivers for the new-for-2019 championship.
***The Florida-based team currently has possession of two Audis, both ex-Stevenson Motorsports chassis that were purchased by Eric Chase in late 2017 and run under the TruSpeed Autosport banner in Blancpain GT World Challenge America last year.
***While not yet official, IMSA is expected to have nearly 20 automotive partners this year, in what would be a “truly unprecedented” feat, according to IMSA President Scott Atherton. “It’s not just a car on the grid, it’s not just an entry, it’s got a lot more going for it,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “When you come back here and see the car display that fills the infield, you’ll know what I mean.”
***Hyundai became the 18th official automotive partner in November when it announced its TCR entry into Michelin Pilot Challenge, while IMSA recently wrapped up deals with Alfa Romeo (TCR) and Nissan (DPi), the latter via a new, yet-to-be-announced sponsor from CORE autosport.
***Former FOX Sports broadcasters Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall will remain in the IMSA paddock this year with a new, yet-to-be-announced trackside talk show. Details on the new online venture is expected to be revealed next week.
John Dagys wrote:Toyota LMP1 Drivers Ruled Out for 12H Sebring
Alonso, Kobayashi, Conway ruled out of Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring…
date: January 6, 2019
Both Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing have been forced to revert to backup plans to fill its third driver seats at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with Toyota electing not to release its LMP1 drivers for the race.
Mike Conway, and either fellow Toyota Gazoo Racing teammates Fernando Alonso or Kamui Kobayashi had initially been anticipated to complete the lineups in the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R and No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi, respectively, although have been ruled out due to the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Sebring that weekend.
A Toyota spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that its drivers will be focused exclusively on the 1000 Miles of Sebring race, which takes place the evening prior to the 12-hour IMSA enduro.
“We thought we had this covered but clearly we can’t expect those two guys to come to us when they’re running Toyotas,” Wayne Taylor told Sportscar365.
“In the beginning, we thought there was a chance. Now there’s no chance.”
Taylor said he’s close to finalizing a replacement driver for Sebring that will join full-season drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande behind the wheel of the Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac DPi.
“We are negotiations with a third driver,” he said. “I’ll only know [next week] because of his commitments now.”
Action Express team manager Gary Nelson, meanwhile, said they have two different options on the table for its No. 5 entry, alongside Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa, with a decision likely to be made following the Rolex 24.
“We’ve talked to a couple of guys and they’re both ready,” Nelson told Sportscar365. “But the conversation was if Conway can’t do it, are they available?”
Nelson confirmed that Conway will return to the team for the final two Michelin Endurance Cup races of the season at Watkins Glen International and Michelin Road Atlanta, which has since seen a clash with the Fuji WEC round avoided.
The identity of WTR’s third driver for the two other races, meanwhile, remains unclear.
Multiple Drivers Expected to Pull Sebring Double Duty
Upwards of a dozen drivers could end up contesting both the WEC and IMSA races, with several already confirmed to complete the unique first-ever Sebring double.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing WEC drivers Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell will also take part in the IMSA race with the Multimatic-supported Team Joest operation, while WEC LMP2 points leader Gabriele Aubry of Jackie Chan DC Racing is set for a full WeatherTech Championship season with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.
Patrick Lindsey, meanwhile, is listed to compete in both races in Porsche machinery, while factory drivers from BMW, Ferrari and Porsche could also pull the double.
Sportscar365 understands that Corvette Racing, which is tipped to enter a solo Corvette C7.R in the 1,000-mile WEC round, could also utilize two of its IMSA drivers.