While teams and drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge descend upon Daytona International Speedway this week for the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 test days, it’s the IMSA Prototype Challenge that takes to the track’s famed high banks for the first IMSA race of its highly anticipated 50th anniversary season in 2019.
A total of 19 LMP3 prototypes are entered for the season-opening race that will go green on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 12:15 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv and can be heard on IMSARadio.com and RadioLeMans.com.
For the second consecutive season, the race at Daytona continues to evolve with a new look for the rapidly growing series and its popular LMP3 platform. Among the enhancements made to the IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2019 is the evolution of the endurance racing format that debuted at Daytona in 2018.
One year after shifting from two 45-minute sprint races per weekend to a single one-hour, 45-minute endurance race, the series will extend to a three-hour race format for select events this season, including Daytona. Teams are required to have two drivers for endurance races with the option of using a third driver.
The IMSA Prototype Challenge also moves to Michelin tires and LMP3 cars exclusively in 2019 with many of the top drivers and teams from the longstanding MPC class moving to the LMP3 class.
Among the teams and drivers moving from MPC to LMP3 is ONE Motorsports – which won at Sebring one year ago with Dave House – and defending MPC driver champion Jon Brownson, who drove for ANSA Motorsports in the offseason IMSA Michelin Encore at Sebring and recently took part in a Michelin on-track opportunity with the team at Daytona.
“IMSA has done such a remarkable job bringing the coming season’s format to the Prototype Challenge series, with the Encore at Sebring and the Michelin on-track opportunity,” said Brownson. “The depth of experience, professional dedication and enthusiasm in the drivers coming to this series is truly awesome. I think it’ll all look just great from the podium this season.”
Teams making their LMP3 debuts at Daytona include Robillard Racing and a partnership from existing teams Alianza Motorsports and Gilbert Motorsports. Both teams will campaign Norma M30s, joining a trio of Forty7 Motorsports prototypes as the field’s Norma M30 contingent.
Simraceway Motorsports and Sean Creech Motorsports are also set to make their debuts, as will former IndyCar and American Le Mans Series team Conquest Racing. They will join a strong field of Ligier JS P3 prototypes fielded by ANSA Motorsports, Performance Tech Motorsports, Polestar Motor Racing, K2R Motorsports, Wulver Racing and P1 Motorsports.
All three days of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona are open to the public, with free admission for 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona ticket holders. Tickets are available now at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.