IMSA may be forced to restrict car field sizes at some tracks

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When it comes to numbers, IMSA is hot, red hot.

So much so that as it prepares for its 50th anniversary season, the sanctioning body may be forced to restrict the number of cars entered for some events in the upcoming 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship campaign.

IMSA issued a media release Wednesday noting that due to “a significant increase in the number of full-time teams confirmed to compete (in 2019) … the sanctioning body may need to restrict the number of cars at some events.

There are currently 37 full-time “premium” teams entered for a full season in 2019. While most race tracks have room on pit road for significantly more cars, pit lanes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca are able to accommodate just over 40 cars in an event.

As a result, there is a real possibility that “restriction protocols may be deployed for the first time since the inaugural WeatherTech Championship season in 2014,” according to the media release.

IMSA said factors it may use to determine priority include: teams with season-long premium entries, commitments to participate in all seven WeatherTech Sprint Cup events and/or the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

Other determining factors include time stamp on teams filing standard, single-event entries; potentially limiting cars per class; as well as taking into account a team’s history of competing in IMSA-sanctioned events.

“While we are not yet in a situation where restrictions are needed, we believe it is important that our constituents be made aware of this situation and understand the criteria we will use if it becomes necessary,” IMSA vice resident of competition Simon Hodgson said in the media release. “This is a good problem to have – and the fact that there is a need for us to discuss these contingency plans is a testament to the attractiveness of our WeatherTech Championship platform.

“Our 50th anniversary season is now confirmed to have one of the largest and highest quality fields of full-season competitors in IMSA’s history.”

IMSA cars take to the track at the preseason Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 4-6, followed by the Rolex 24 Hours season opener Jan. 26-27.

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified


FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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