Thursday’s announcement of GT Daytona PRO, a new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class for 2022 which replaces the current GT Le Mans category, will become the subject of intense planning in the weeks and months ahead.
Detailed answers on a number of topics, including if and how IMSA might create a separation in lap times between the manufacturer-themed GTD PRO class and its existing pro-am GT Daytona category designed for non-factory entrants, await future discussions.
“Initial feedback to our GTD PRO announcement has been extremely positive,” IMSA competition VP Simon Hodgson told RACER. “Now that the overall plans for GTD PRO have been made public, our next steps will be to put together a manufacturer working group and solicit feedback from our current and potential future manufacturer partners. There are many details still to be finalized, but as always, we will work together with our OEM partners and Michelin to arrive at the most appropriate decisions. Likewise, we also remain engaged with our long-term partners at the ACO who were aware of our plans for GTD PRO before yesterday’s announcement.”
The upcoming removal of GTLM severs a direct link between IMSA’s factory GT teams and the ACO, which creates the rules for GTLM (known as GTE at the 24 Hours of Le Mans). Hodgson pointed to the Le Mans entry pathway established between IMSA and the ACO for the winners of the WeatherTech Championship’s non-factory LMP2 and GTD titles as an ongoing area of collaboration.
“While many IMSA manufacturers, teams and drivers compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans each year, it’s important to remember that for the past several years, the only automatic invitations for IMSA competitors are the two that go to the annual winners of the Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards, respectively,” he said.
“Certainly, IMSA and the ACO remain close partners, especially with LMDh coming online in the next couple of years, so it seems logical that substantial participation from IMSA competitors will continue at Le Mans well into the future.”