IMSA took the opportunity on the first day of its Continental Tire Road Race Showcase weekend at Road America to unveil next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule during their “State of the Sport” presentation.
The 2018 WeatherTech Championship calendar features 12 events to be held at as many venues and shared between the three classes that will race next year: Prototype, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona.
Beyond a few minor date changes during the season’s closing rounds, the only notable change for next year is the addition of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The first event at Mid-Ohio for top-level sports car racing since 2013 — the year before the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series merger — replaces Circuit of The Americas’ slot on the schedule and will take place on the weekend of May 4–6, 2018.
As the fourth round on the 2018 schedule, the Mid-Ohio visit will mark the first “standard” two-hour, 40-minute race of the year following two Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds and a stop in Southern California for a shorter race at Long Beach.
“The 2018 WeatherTech Championship schedule again showcases the stability of our platform, while at the same time reaffirming our commitment to the best road racing venues and events in North America — and this time offering a few surprises for our fans,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.
“Each race on our 2018 calendar has a rich history of sports car competition, which we expect to be at an all-time high next season across all three classes.”
Carrying over from the four previous seasons dating back to the championship’s launch in 2014, the schedule for IMSA’s premier series will be anchored by a quartet of longer endurance rounds under the Patron Endurance Cup moniker.
The 56th Rolex 24 at Daytona will open up the season with a twice-around-the-clock contest on the road course at the famed Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona round will again be followed up by the 66th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, completing the so-called “36 Hours of Florida.”
Like the Mid-Ohio race, the four endurance events, rounded out by the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans, will feature all three classes. The Prototype, GTLM and GTD divisions will each also race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
While those races will each last two hours and 40 minutes, the series’ customary 100-minute races at Long Beach and Detroit will also return, featuring the Prototype class and one GT class each (GTLM for Long Beach and GTD for Detroit).
Those two GT categories will race solo twice next year, with GT-only races scheduled for July 21 at Lime Rock Park and Aug. 19 at Virginia International Raceway.
“The on-track product will include legendary manufacturers and competitors — some of which are returning to IMSA competition in 2018 after a short time away — and we’re confident it will capture the imagination of race fans everywhere,” Atherton added.
|1||Jan. 25–28||Rolex 24 at Daytona||Daytona International Speedway||P, GTLM, GTD||24 hours|
|2||March 14–17||Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring||Sebring International Raceway||P, GTLM, GTD||12 hours|
|3||April 13–14||BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach||Streets of Long Beach||P, GTLM||100 minutes|
|4||May 4–6||TBD||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||P, GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|5||June 1–2||Chevrolet Sports Car Classic||Raceway at Belle Isle Park||P, GTD||100 minutes|
|6||June 28 to July 1||Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen||Watkins Glen International||P, GTLM, GTD||6 hours|
|7||July 6–8||Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||P, GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|8||July 20–21||Northeast Grand Prix||Lime Rock Park||GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|9||Aug. 3–5||Continental Tire Road Race Showcase||Road America||P, GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|10||Aug. 17–19||Michelin GT Challenge||Virginia International Raceway||GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|11||Sept. 7–9||Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||P, GTLM, GTD||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|12||Oct. 10–13||Motul Petit Le Mans||Road Atlanta||P, GTLM, GTD||10 hours|
At the time of the announcement of the 2018 schedule, 155 days remain until the first official day of on-track action for IMSA next year: the Roar Before the Rolex 24, set for Jan. 5–7.