Despite having won three races in the 2018 season, LMP2 cars have been deemed by IMSA to be too slow to be competitive with their home-brew manufacturer-supported DPI class cars. As such, the DPI class will be allowed more go-fast for 2019 and split into its own class. No longer a contender for the overall victory, the LMP2 category is shrinking rapidly, and now IMSA has reduced the number of races LMP2 class cars will run from 10 to 8, cutting the Belle Isle and Long Beach rounds.
In 2018 the two types of car were combined into one catch-all class, but for next year they’ll be split because DPI was IMSA’s idea, and LMP2 isn’t. The IMSA higher-ups don’t like the idea of an Oreca-Gibson (Whatever the hell that is, right?) beating their sponsor partner teams with Cadillac, Acura, Mazda, or Nissan power.
IMSA effectively legislated teams into buying all-new equipment after only two seasons with their brand new LMP2 chassis. That isn’t a great look, considering how concerned the series says it is with cost-cutting.
With CORE Autosport announcing they will be moving from an LMP2-based team into a Nissan DPI for the 2019 season, and JDC Miller Motorsports moving into a pair of Cadillac DPIs, that leaves just two teams running a full season LMP2 effort next year. Just PR1 Mathiasen and Performance Tech are expected to stick around in the class of reduced importance.
While missing two rounds will come with a corresponding reduction of costs for the teams, it also comes with the same reduction in exposure for their sponsors and drivers. Fewer races is almost never a good thing for a class, as it tends to signify the beginning of the end.
If manufacturers fall on hard times in the near future, you can bet their racing budgets will go down the tubes and IMSA will be left wishing they’d kept LMP2 around and relevant. Manufacturer-supported teams build interest, but privateer teams are what build a racing series. Dicking over privateers has never worked out well, historically. And kowtowing to manufacturer partner demands doesn’t keep the board of directors from slashing budgets. Just ask NASCAR, or IndyCar, or the FIA for some solid evidence.