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

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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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.

 

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.