Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA to Split DPi, LMP2 into separate classes

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 3, 2018) – As part of the annual State of the Series presentation at Road America this evening, IMSA unveiled several competition changes that will take effect in the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“As we continue to evolve the WeatherTech Championship, we’ve engaged in extensive dialogue with our stakeholders to consider appropriate refinements,” said IMSA Vice President, Competition Simon Hodgson. “The changes we will implement in 2019 are based upon the feedback we’ve received from all WeatherTech Championship class stakeholders in the paddock. We expect the changes will be popular with participants and IMSA fans alike.”

DPi-LMP2 To Become Separate Classes

After competing together in one overarching Prototype class for the past two WeatherTech Championship seasons, manufacturer-backed Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race cars will compete exclusively in the premier WeatherTech Championship class with global LMP2-spec cars competing in a separate, Pro-Am class beginning with the 2019 season.

DPi cars no longer will be balanced against the best LMP2 example, instead shifting to a class-specific Balance of Performance (BoP) process managed by the IMSA Technical Committee similar to the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. The LMP2 class, meanwhile, becomes Pro-Am as it is in the FIA World Endurance Championship and elsewhere around the world with no BoP applied.

Pro-Am Class Revisions

Beginning next season, the WeatherTech Championship again will feature four classes – as it had from 2014 through 2017 – including Pro-Am classes in both the Prototype (LMP2) and GT (GTD) categories.

Both classes will follow the same rules for its driver lineups. LMP2 and GTD teams will be required to field at least one Bronze- or Silver-rated driver for every non-endurance race and will be allowed a maximum of one Platinum-rated driver per car. In Michelin Endurance Cup events, IMSA will balance driver combinations for three-, four- and five-driver lineups with an emphasis on Bronze and Silver drivers. Maximum drive time for Gold and Platinum drivers now will be limited.

In the LMP2 class, the Bronze or Silver driver finishing the highest in the season-long WeatherTech driver’s championship point standings will win the Jim Trueman Award and earn the opportunity to secure an entry to compete in the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans that it can bring to any team, whether it competes in IMSA or elsewhere.

The rules will be the same in the GTD class, with the Bob Akin Award and the Le Mans entry going to the highest-finishing Bronze or Silver driver in the season-long WeatherTech Championship driver standings. Ties will be broken in favor of the driver with the highest season-long cumulative drive time.

Other changes to the GTD sporting regulations include dedicated track time for Bronze or Silver drivers only prior to qualifying at each event, and new requirements that Bronze or Silver drivers only will be permitted to participate in qualifying with the qualifying driver also required to start the race. Any Bronze or Silver drivers participating in the additional practice session will be allocated one additional set of dry-type (slick) tires.

IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee Developed

The WeatherTech Championship will continue to utilize FIA Driver Ratings as the basis for determining driver eligibility in the LMP2 and GTD classes, as has been the case since the series’ inception in 2014. IMSA has been an active participant in driver ratings analysis as part of the FIA Driver Ratings Committee since that time, but heading into the 2019 season, IMSA has established a new IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee chaired by Paul Walter, IMSA director, racing operations.

In a similar fashion to the IMSA Technical Committee chaired by Geoff Carter, IMSA senior director, technical regulations and compliance, the IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee will review each IMSA driver’s recorded pace based on both the FIA Driver Rating Committee’s established criteria and the IMSA Technical Committee’s standardized BoP driver’s weighted average lap time distribution. The results of this analysis then will be shared with the FIA Driver Ratings Committee for consideration before the next applicable driver rating period.

In accordance with FIA regulations, IMSA retains the right to adjust a driver’s categorization based on the specific nature of its own championship. However, IMSA will not make in-season changes to any driver’s rating.

In addition to Walter and Carter, the IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee also includes IMSA Vice President, Competition Simon Hodgson; WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race Director Beaux Barfield; WeatherTech Championship Series Manager Ed Hall; IMSA Senior Director, Racing Operations Mark Raffauf and IMSA Director, Technical Systems Matt Kurdock.

Roar Before the Rolex 24 Only IMSA-Sanctioned Test in 2019; GTD Participation Reduced By One Day

The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 4-6, 2019 – which is mandatory for all entered 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona participants – will be the only IMSA-sanctioned test for the 2019 season. In addition, participation at the Roar by GTD teams will be reduced to two days with on track days being limited to Friday and Saturday only.

Any private test sessions for all WeatherTech Championship teams will be conducted under the same testing regulations as in 2018. DPi and LMP2 teams each will be allowed 10 days of testing per entered car, with nine test days for each GTLM entry and four test days for each GTD car.

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Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”