IMSA has set an exceptionally high bar of what fans should expect from the new era of sports car prototype racing. The sanctioning body has announced that the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be called Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) for the 2023 season. GTP will be used to refer to both LMDh prototypes and Le Mans Hypercar prototypes, similarly to how the FIA and ACO refer to both sets of prototypes as Hypercar in the World Endurance Championship.
GTP was the top category of the IMSA GT Championship for almost all of the 1980s and the early 1990s. The high-performance and high-tech racing class was roughly parallel to the FIA’s Group C. The era saw many iconic sports prototypes, from the Porsche 962 and the Jaguar XJR-9 to the Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo and the Toyota Eagle Mk.III, competing across North America’s race tracks. For IMSA to bluntly compare a yet-to-be-raced category to a “Golden Era” of the sport speaks to how confident the body feels about the championship’s near future.
In a statement, IMSA President John Doonan said:
“If you were a race fan in the 1980s and early ‘90s as I was, you probably have fond memories of those epic IMSA GTP race cars, drivers and teams. We are on the precipice of an amazing new era of GTP competition, with a real opportunity to eclipse the previous success of GTP. There is so much for IMSA fans – and really endurance sports car racing fans around the world – to look forward to in the coming years, led by the introduction of the new GTP class here at Daytona in 2023.”
When asked during the Rolex 24 IMSA.tv broadcast, Doonan affirmed that prototypes from the FIA World Endurance Championship would be able to participate in IMSA competition if the cars are homologated again with IMSA. The process will be the same in the opposite direction, with IMSA prototypes needing to be homologated again with the ACO to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship. There are a lot to look forward to in endurance racing next year and years to come. Let’s just hope it lives up to expectations.