Split Prototype Classes Highlight 2019 IMSA Changes

Nissan Onroak DPi leads ORECA 07 LMP2 through Belle Isle racetrack
Manufacturers bringing DPi cars to the grid and the LMP2 machines will race for separate points in 2019. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

During its annual “State of the Series” event at Road America, IMSA announced several competition changes affecting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship including a revised class structure that divides the current Prototype class in two.

Following just two years of Daytona Prototype international and LMP2 cars competing under the Prototype moniker, the series will instead field the cars in two separate classes beginning in 2019.

The top-level DPi class will feature manufacturer-backed cars that will no longer be balanced against the best-performing LMP2 car, instead moving to a class-specific Balance of Performance process that will allow the cars to realize their performance potential.

The new LMP2 class will shift to a Pro-Am format and will follow the same rules as the Pro-Am GT Daytona category. Competitors in both classes will be required to field at least one Bronze- or Silver-rated driver and no more than one Platinum driver. For endurance events that feature lineups with three or more drivers, IMSA will balance combinations with an emphasis on drivers holding Bronze and Silver ratings.

Further competition changes affecting only GTD include additional practice time for Bronze- and Silver-rated drivers — who will be required to qualify for and start each race. To facilitate extra on-track time for these drivers, an extra set of dry tires will be allocated on each race weekend.

Driver ratings will take on added importance next year with IMSA creating its own Driver Evaluation Committee. Chaired by Paul Walter, IMSA’s director of racing operations, the committee will use FIA Driver Ratings as its basis for determining eligibility in both Pro-Am classes, however IMSA can adjust a driver’s rating based on aspects of the WeatherTech Championship that may not apply elsewhere.

The season’s changes will be put into action when the series gathers at Daytona International Speedway for the Roar Before the Rolex 24, IMSA’s only sanctioned test in 2019.

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