Photo courtesy of IMSA

Seven-race IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup to debut for GT Daytona

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

ELKHART LAKE, Wis.  – The 2019 IMSA season will see the debut of a new, seven-race competition called the “IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup” for GT Daytona (GTD) class competitors within most IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sprint events two-hour, 40-minutes in length or shorter.

The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup is a product of constructive feedback from a series of conversations with GTD stakeholders,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Beginning next season, GTD competitors have the opportunity to compete for three different IMSA titles. The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup offers GTD drivers and teams a relatively cost-effective option to compete at the top level of North American sports car racing. We are grateful to WeatherTech Founder and CEO David MacNeil for his enthusiastic support of this new program.”

The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup will use the same points system and sporting regulations as the GTD class uses for the 10-race WeatherTech Championship GTD season but creates new opportunities for class competitors. Teams will have two-driver lineups every round, including a minimum of one Bronze- or Silver-rated driver paired with another Bronze or Silver or a maximum of one Gold or Platinum driver. Drivers, teams and manufacturers all will earn points based upon the overall finishing position of the car in the GTD class, all accumulating toward season-ending awards.

The first race for the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup will be the two-hour, 40-minute round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 5 and will conclude at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – another two-hour, 40-minute race – on Sept. 15.

The 100-minute Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will count toward the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for the GTD class, and not toward the overall, 10-race WeatherTech Championship season. That event, which is subject to final approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is scheduled for Saturday, June 1.

Other rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup include the two-hour, 40-minute races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on July 7, Lime Rock Park on July 20, Road America on Aug. 4 and VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 25.

“The new IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for GTD competitors will add an exciting element to the class,” David MacNeil, founder and CEO of WeatherTech said. “Putting emphasis on the sprint rounds should attract new competitors to our brand of sports car racing. More cars on the track makes for more excitement for the fans and a better show for television.”

Winners of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup will be recognized alongside champions in the WeatherTech Championship and the Michelin Endurance Cup at the season-ending WeatherTech Night of Champions awards celebration in October.

All IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup races will be broadcast in the U.S. by NBC Sports, which kicks off a new six-year rights agreement with IMSA in 2019. The races also will be streamed live on the NBC Sports App and at NBC.com.

 

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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