Late last night, Alex Job Racing confirmed its WeatherTech-backed Porsche 911 GT3 R would withdraw from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
So why, you ask, would a sponsor pull out of a series that it is – and will remain per its initial multi-year contract – the entitlement sponsor of?
According to the team, it’s the dreaded Balance of Performance for the Porsche in the GT Daytona class.
“We have decided to withdrawal the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche for the remainder of the IMSA season,” Alex Job, team owner, said. “The decision to stop racing was rooted purely on performance and the future prospects for the Porsche at the remaining tracks on the 2016 schedule. The conclusion was based upon the performance in direct comparison to the competition over the past eight GTD races and the possible variations of how the BOP (balance of performance) could playout over the next three races with our engineering team and IMSA.”
David MacNeil, founder and CEO of WeatherTech, remains committed to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“This is a competition decision as it relates to the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche team in IMSA,” MacNeil said. “We make marketing decisions based upon what is best for our business. We are still the presenting sponsor of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and we are committed to growing the sport now and into the future.”
A statement from IMSA reads as follows:
“IMSA was recently informed of the decision to suspend participation of the No. 22 Alex Job Racing entry in GTD class competition of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. One of the most significant and defining elements of sports car racing is the variety of cars, brands and technologies within our highly competitive GT categories.
“The IMSA Technical Committee was established to professionally manage the complex Balance of Performance (BoP) process to ensure fair and close competition among the many participating brands and teams. The committee operates with a transparent, data-driven process which closely analyzes both actual race performance and related observation factors.
“We are disappointed the No. 22 car will not be competing at our next event, but remain committed to our ongoing process.”
This is then the point in the story where we look at the results of the No. 22 Porsche, driven by Cooper MacNeil and Leh Keen (until Road America, when Keen was let go and Porsche Junior Sven Mueller filled in) compared to the other three full-time Porsches in the GTD class:
- No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 R: 13, 5, 8, 7, 5, 7, 9, 11
- No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: 8, 4, 1, 4, 3, 12, 14, 12
- No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R: 17, 17, 11, 2, 8, 6, 10, 2
- No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: 2, 13, 17, WD, 7, WD, 12, WD
So as you’ll see there, the Nos. 23, 73 and 540 Porsches have made it on the podium this year while the No. 22 Porsche has not. Porsche also sits second in the GTD Manufacturer’s Championship with three races remaining.
In fact, the last time the No. 22 Porsche was on an IMSA podium was the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona, when it finished second. But that was 18 races and 18 months ago in January, 2015.
While BOP concerns are fair to bring up, the other point to note is the competition level in GTD has significantly risen the last year and a half, and will only continue to do so as the caliber of driver, team and manufacturers in class continues to increase.
From an objective viewpoint, it looks worse on WeatherTech than it does on IMSA.
Then there was this that came in from Ed Brown, CEO of Patron Spirits, who noted his team – Tequila Patron ESM – often fought on in the face of adverse BOP when that team ran in IMSA full-time.
Ironically, they don’t now as they are in the FIA World Endurance Championship full-time, but they have remained committed to the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which of course, they still sponsor.
When approached for comment, Porsche offered the below.