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IMSA Announces 2019 Series Configuration Changes, Schedules

At Road America Friday (Aug. 3), IMSA held their annual State of the Series press conference.  As usual, there were a flurry of announcements made.

The biggest of those moves is the decision to split the Prototype class starting in 2019.  Starting with January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the DPis and Global LMP2 cars will be in separate classes.  The two classes will no longer be balanced together.  Instead, the DPis will be balanced with each other.  There will be no Balance of Performance in LMP2 since everyone already runs the same engine and theoretically should have similar performance.

In addition, the new LMP2 class will be a Pro-Am class with the same driver ranking rules as GT Daytona.  That means that there is a minimum of one silver or bronze-rated driver required for sprint races.  Endurance race driver lineups will be skewed more toward amateur lineups than professional lineups.  Also of note, there will be a strict maximum of one platinum-rated driver with an LMP2 team at any time.  That technically puts the LMP2 class in line with other series such as the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series.

The 2019 schedule was also released.  There are no new races on the schedule and two date changes.  The VIR round in August has been moved back one week, putting it back where it was in 2017.  In addition, the race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has been moved back a week as well.  That move puts the race on back-to-back weekends with the INDYCAR season finale, which moves to the Salinas-based road course next year.

The Belle Isle Park round is currently in provisional status because the race weekend does not have state approval yet as of this writing.

Finally, IMSA has introduced the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for 2019.  This is a championship-within-the-championship for GT Daytona teams comprised of the seven sprint races on the schedule.  Detroit is currently designed to be a Sprint Cup race only for GT Daytona teams.  No regular points will be offered for GTD teams.  We’ll have more on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup in Pace Laps on Sunday.

2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Schedule

Date(s)TrackRaceNetworkClasses
January 26-27Daytona International SpeedwayRolex 24 at DaytonaNBCSNAll
March 16Sebring International RacewayMobil 1 12 Hours of SebringNBCSN/CNBCAll
April 13Long BeachBUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long BeachNBCSNDPi/LMP2/GTLM
May 5Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseN/ANBCSNAll
June 1Belle Isle ParkChevrolet Detroit Grand PrixNBCSNDPi/LMP2/GTD*
June 30Watkins Glen InternationalSahlen's Six Hours at the GlenNBCSNAll
July 7Canadian Tire Motorsports ParkN/ANBCAll
July 20Lime Rock ParkNortheast Grand PrixNBCSNGTLM/GTD
August 4Road AmericaN/ANBCSNAll
August 25VIRginia International RacewayN/ANBCSNGTLM/GTD
September 15WeatherTech Raceway Laguna SecaN/ANBCAll
October 12Road AtlantaMotul Petit Le MansNBC/NBCSNAll

Last year, IMSA announced that Michelin would become the new official tire of the sanctioning body, replacing Continental.  In addition, it was announced that Michelin would serve as title sponsor of both the current Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

Friday saw the new name for the CTSC unveiled.  Starting in 2019, it will now be known as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.  Pilot is a type of tire that Michelin makes.

For 2019, the biggest change in the Michelin Pilot Challenge will be the elimination of the Street Tuner class.  That was announced last year and was not a surprise to anyone.  The class has operated as a lame duck in 2018.

The schedule is more or less a carbon copy of 2018.  10 races, mostly two hours in length with two four-hour events (Daytona and Watkins Glen).

2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Schedule

DateTrackLength
January 25Daytona International Speedway4 Hours
March 15Sebring International Raceway2 Hours
May 4Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course2 Hours
June 29Watkins Glen International4 Hours
July 6Canadian Tire Motorsports Park2 Hours
July 20Lime Rock Park2 Hours
August 3Road America2 Hours
August 24VIRginia International Raceway2 Hours
September 14WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca2 Hours
October 11Road Atlanta2 Hours

The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda in 2019 will have six races once again.  The newest wrinkle here is the introduction of two three-hour events into the schedule.  Those will be held at Daytona International Speedway (as part of the Roar Before the 24) and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in July.  Aside from the season opener at the Roar, the other five events will run as support races to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda Schedule

DateTrackLength
January 6Daytona International Speedway3 Hours
March 16Sebring International Raceway105 minutes
May 5Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course105 minutes
July 6Canadian Tire Motorsports Park3 Hours
August 25VIRginia International Raceway105 minutes
October 12Road Atlanta105 minutes
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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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