While the DPi, GTLM and GTD classes all look strong heading into the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech season, the new LMP2 division is thin on numbers. Just four cars are present at the Roar, two of which are from DragonSpeed, which as it stands is only set to race in Daytona.
DPi has matured, its number of entries up to 11 for Rolex this year despite losing Spirit of Daytona and ESM in the off season, thanks to CORE autosport and JDC Miller stepping up from LMP2, and the addition of Juncos Racing to the pack.
It’s the loss of JDC Miller and CORE to the LMP2 pack though, that’s half the issue. As it stands, PR1 and Performance Tech appear to be the only candidates to take on the shortened LMP2 schedule (down to eight races), throwing up the obvious question as to whether spittling the prototype classes was the right decision.
IMSA head Scott Atherton spoke to DSC today about that subject and said he fells that it’s too early to truly say whether or not this change was a mistake.
“I would agree it’s too early to make any final conclusions. We’re thrilled at the DPi grid, and there were some team decisions to move from LMP2 to DPi that we didn’t expect. It’s hard to say that’s a bad thing though, as it’s a tremendous grid here.
“Four cars in LMP2 is a minimum, we expect it to grow still. There’s a value proposition in LMP2 right now. There are good cars available, and we expect more to come. But we don’t expect 10 cars to turn up at Sebring. We did this after receiving direction from everyone involved, and it’s a by-product of that.”
For the Rolex 24 Hours, in particular, Atherton stated he’s surprised that teams have come over from Europe to compete in LMP2, as they did last year. There were rumblings from a few names, but no plans from the ELMS and WEC paddocks, DragonSpeed aside, came to fruition.
“I hope we see European P2 teams coming, it, that’s been the case in the past,” he added. “It’s surprising that there’s not been as much uptake, because they’re racing for a class win now, and here a class win at Daytona is significant, being a Rolex 24 at Daytona winner is significant.”
GTD, on the other hand, is booming right now, with 23 cars here at the Roar. It’s a class which has seen fluctuations in numbers over the course of a season in recent years though, with the cost of GT3 racing rising year on year.
However, Atherton remains confident that this year, with the addition of the IMSA Sprint Cup for GTD runners and the ever-increasing allure of the increased exposure that racing in IMSA has, we will see a strong GTD field all the way through the season in 2019.
“We have unprecedented full-season commitments this year, and that applies to GTD as well as the other classes. Our numbers are right at max capacity, and the majority of that comes from GTD, which is a great problem to have.”