IMSA will resume its revised 2020 season at Daytona and Sebring

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IMSA announced the resumption of its WeatherTech Championship season Friday, returning July 4 at Daytona International Speedway with a live broadcast on NBCSN

The Michelin Pilot Challenge also will resume with the WeatherTech Championship Series at Sebring International Raceway on July 17-18 (also on NBCSN).

The events will be held without fans.

IMSA also announced the rest of its 2020 slate, which continues with Road America on July 31-Aug. 2. Series officials said it hasn’t been decided which races would have crowds after Daytona and Sebring.

The season will conclude Nov. 11-14 with the 12 Hours of Sebring, which was rescheduled from March because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IMSA has been on hold since Wayne Taylor Racing won the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January (here were the final results by class in that event).

Here’s the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Revised Schedule:

Date                 Venue                                                  Length                Classes

Jan. 25-26         Daytona International Speedway            24 hours           DPi, LMP2*, GTLM, GTD

July 3-4             Daytona International Speedway            2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, GTLM, GTD

July 17-18         Sebring International Raceway               2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD**

July 31-Aug. 2   Road America                                       2 hr., 40 min.       DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Aug. 21-23        VIRginia International Raceway              2 hr., 40 min      GTLM, GTD

Sept. 4-6           WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca     2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Sept. 25-27       Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course                  2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 2-4             Watkins Glen International                      6 hours             DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 14-17         Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta             10 hours           DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 30-31         Lime Rock Park                                     2 hr., 40 min.     GTLM, GTD

Nov. 11-14        Sebring International Raceway               12 hours           DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

 

Here’s the release from IMSA:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2020) – In a series of video conferences with stakeholders earlier today, IMSA revealed its plans to return to racing this summer with a revised 2020 calendar for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The WeatherTech Championship will return July 4 at Daytona International Speedway. This Fourth of July event will feature an evening race with WeatherTech as its entitlement partner and a live television broadcast on NBCSN.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge will resume alongside the WeatherTech Championship at Sebring International Raceway on July 17-18. The WeatherTech Championship event also will be televised live on NBCSN.

Both event weekends will be conducted without fans in attendance.

“IMSA is grateful to all of our promoter partners for collaborating with us to develop a revised schedule of outstanding events,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Our No. 1 priority since March has been to get back to racing as safely and as quickly as possible, and this revised schedule is evidence of that. We appreciate the patience, cooperation, and input of our IMSA stakeholders, and we all are very much looking forward to going racing again this summer and putting on amazing races for our audience.”

Further NBC Sports television broadcast information and any additional details will be announced soon.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds