IMSA Really Wants Teams To Ditch LMP2 For DPI

Illustration for article titled IMSA Really Wants Teams To Ditch LMP2 For DPI
Image: IMSA

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.

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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.

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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.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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DISCUSSION

bradleyland
Brad Landers

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.

That’s a very cynical way to look at it. If you ask me, it was an idea that was never going to work out, but if you trace this whole thing back to its roots, the intentions were good.

IMSA has always been very cost conscious. They have learned from the past. They always knew that the merged P class, composed of DPi/LMP2 cars, was going to be pinned to LMP2, because LMP2 can’t be changed. It’s a global spec class. What they didn’t anticipate is just how much they’d have to pin back the DPi cars.

It’s not IMSA that’s upset over LMP2 cars beating DPi cars, it’s the manufacturers who sunk a bunch of money into DPi, only to have their cars continuously penalized. As it turns out, the whole situation was unworkable from the start. Some saw it coming, IMSA didn’t. If there is a criticism here, it’s that.

What I’m more worried about is DPi becoming Corvette DP all over again. All the privateers are flocking to the Cadillac platform. Sure, we’ve got Acura and Mazda out there, but if IMSA uncorks the DPi cars again, history tells us that the Cadillac is hard to beat. That’s the new challenge: keep things competitive in DPi, and don’t let WTR and the chorus of Cadillac DPi teams whine their way to an unfair advantage.