IMSA Is Splitting Up Its Prototype Classes so the Daytona Prototypes Can Go Even Faster

Illustration for article titled IMSA Is Splitting Up Its Prototype Classes so the Daytona Prototypes Can Go Even Faster
Photo: John Raoux (AP)

The Powers That Be of the IMSA series announced on Friday afternoon that they’re going to be making some big changes to the way they’re going to be formatting the series for 2019. They used some fancy words and a big press release to announce it, but the skinny of it is: faster cars, more classes, and some changes to driver ratings considerations.


If you’ve been following IMSA this year, you know that the Balance of Performance (BoP) has been pretty wack this year. The series kinda shot themselves in the foot at both Daytona and Sebring, their two biggest races of the year. Both fans and drivers have been pretty pissed off about the massive disparity happening within each category.

Basically, BoP is supposed to be a way to even out the lap times of all the cars in each category. But this year, the Prototype category is composed of Daytona Prototype international cars and LMP2 cars. While they’re both prototypes, the cars are so different that trying to find BoP regs that make everybody happy is next to impossible. It’d be like trying to find a way to level the playing field between an apple and an orange. Yeah, they’re both fruit, but they are most definitely not growing on the same tree.

So, for 2019, the Prototype class is going to be split in two: the manufacturer-based DPi cars in one, and the global LMP2-spec cars in the other. The DPi cars will be the super exclusive top series of the IMSA series while the LMP2 cars will become the Pro-Am class.

That means the DPi cars aren’t going to be balanced against the best LMP2 car next year. The DPi cars are going to have a class-specific balance as decided by the IMSA Technical Committee, same as the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes. The Pro-Am class is following the example set by the World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 class: they’re getting rid of BoP altogether.

As a result, we’re probably going to have wicked fast DPi cars. I don’t know about you, but I’m always stoked to watch a real quick prototype doing its thing.

There’s also a whole lot of mumbo jumbo about driver ratings. If you need a refresher course on what the hell a driver rating actually is, we’ve written a whole article breaking it down for you. All you really need to know here is that IMSA seems to be recognizing that the whole system of determining who’s a pro driver and who’s an amateur driver and therefore determining where they can race is kind of stupid because the whole system is broken to begin with.


The big takeaway is that IMSA will be balancing driver combinations. Don’t get your head in a tizzy worrying about it. Let’s focus on the fact that IMSA has four classes again, and the DPis are going to be quick.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



How “global” will the LMP2 class be?

Does this mean they’ll run the LeMans spec engine rather than the multi-manufacturer LMP2 enigne options this year? And give up the advantage IMSA had over the ACO’s lagging privateer class? On the hope that those LMP2 engine manufacturers will somehow migrate to DPi?

This sounds more like a kneecapping to me ...