Elkhart Lake, Wis. – Stability and sustainability were among the key messages delivered Friday night at the annual IMSA State of the Sport presentation to stakeholders and media at Road America’s Tufte Center.
IMSA President John Doonan unveiled the 2023 season plans and shared details on a variety of topics with IMSA radio host John Hindhaugh ahead of 2023 expected to be a turning point season for the flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and all IMSA-sanctioned series.
“IMSA has a unique opportunity to revitalize our existing base of sports car racing fans and reach new audiences in 2023 and beyond,” said Doonan. “With the launch of our new GTP prototypes, a robust and stable platform for GT racing, a renewed focus on sustainability and a calendar full of legendary street racing locations, all the ingredients for continued success are in place.”
2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship unveils 11-race schedule
The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will feature a total of 11 races, with six events spanning all five WeatherTech Championship classes: GTP, LMP2, LMP3, GTD PRO and GTD.
The IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup includes all classes of the four traditional endurance races: Rolex 24 At Daytona (January 26-29), Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts (March 15-18), Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen (June 22-25) and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (October 11-14). Five class races will also be held at Road America (August 4-6) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (September 15-17).
The new GTP class will feature a total of nine events in 2023, including Long Beach (April 14-15), WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (May 12-14) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (July 7-9). to join. The GTD PRO and GTD classes will compete in all 11 races of the WeatherTech Championship, including GT-only events at Lime Rock Park (July 21-22) and VIRginia International Raceway (August 25-27). The WeatherTech Sprint Cup for GTD has been discontinued.
The LMP2 class will also compete at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the LMP3 class will return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The Rolex 24 At Daytona does not count towards WeatherTech championship points for the entire season in the LMP2 or LMP3 classes.
In addition to the racing events, the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona returns over the weekend of January 20-22. In preparation for the 2023 season, IMSA sanctioned testing for GTP cars will be held at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on October 3-5 and Daytona International Speedway on December 6-7.
An approved test for all WeatherTech Championship competitors is also scheduled for February 2023 at Sebring International Raceway.
Sustainability alliance strengthened with new opportunities
A key element of the State of the Sport presentation focused on IMSA’s continued sustainability alliance. For more than a decade, IMSA has maintained a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.
The introduction of the new GTP class opens up new sustainability possibilities. Each GTP car will use a single-source hybrid powertrain, which will enable fuel consumption reductions of more than 10 percent. For each car’s internal combustion engine, IMSA’s official fuel supplier, VP Racing Fuels, will supply VP R80 renewable fuel.
Michelin, IMSA’s official tire supplier, has developed a unique new tire for GTP that will have double stint capability. This could lead to a reduction in tire consumption of up to 25 percent. Current WeatherTech Championship Michelin racing tires consist of almost 30 percent sustainable raw materials.
Michelin also showed a new racing tire that consists of 53 percent sustainable raw materials. IMSA and Michelin are working together to bring this tire into IMSA competition.
Competitive improvements including Bob Akin Bronze Cup Championship highlighted
On the competitive front, IMSA confirmed the continuation of a five-class format for the WeatherTech Championship in 2023, with the same driver combination requirements as previous years.
While Bronze and Silver rated drivers remain eligible for GTD driver lineups, IMSA increased its commitment to Bronze rated drivers via the Bob Akin Bronze Cup Championship. The top bronze drivers in GTD are recognized on the podium at each race after the race, and the Bob Akin Bronze Cup winner of the season gets a spot in the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
IMSA is evaluating additional incentives for Bronze drivers in terms of qualifying format and driving time. Updates will be provided as they become available.
The GTP class is set until at least 2027, while LMP2 and LMP3 have been confirmed until 2023. The GTD PRO and GTD classes will continue to use GT3-specific race cars until at least 2026.
Events in Detroit, Indianapolis, highlight of the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge schedule
The 2023 season of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge comprises a total of 11 events, with each of the series’ two classes, Grand Sport (GS) and Touring Car (TCR), taking part in 10 races.
Nine GS class races will be held as companion events to the WeatherTech Championship, with a new standalone event in downtown Detroit June 2-3 as part of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. The TCR class will accompany the WeatherTech Championship to all 10 of its events, with an individual class race scheduled for Lime Rock Park on July 21-22.
The Michelin Pilot Challenge season opens with the traditional four-hour race at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend of January 26-29. Indianapolis Motor Speedway returns to the Michelin Pilot Challenge schedule for the first time since 2014 with a four-hour race scheduled for the weekend of September 15-17.
The Michelin Pilot Challenge will also be eligible to participate in the IMSA sanctioned test in February at Sebring.
Six event schedule planned for inaugural season of IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge
The new IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge will debut with a six-event calendar for the new sprint series featuring currently homologated LMP3 and GT4 race cars.
Each event features two classes – LMP3 and GSX (GT4) – with 45-minute sprint races and no pit stops. To be eligible, drivers must be either Bronze or Silver rated and all cars will be running on Michelin tires.
The season includes a race at Sebring International Raceway over the weekend of March 11-12 as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) prologue test. Accompanying the WeatherTech Championship are four events at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (May 12-14), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (July 7-9), VIRginia International Raceway (August 25-27) and the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (October 11-14).
The sixth event will be announced at a later date.