DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As part of his first state of the sport address Wednesday afternoon IMSA President John Doonan announced next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule, a new points structure, a new qualifying format and several other procedural changes.
The WeatherTech Championship schedule will see the series return to traditional venues next year, beginning with the Rolex 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway in January and running through the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans in October at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
To view the complete schedule, click here.
• IMSA will adopt a new championship points structure for the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge for all events.
Points will be 10 times what they were in previous years, with a win now worth 350 points, 320 for second, 300 for third, etc. Points will continue to be awarded to 30th place in each class.
In addition, the WeatherTech Championship will begin awarding points for qualifying at 10 percent of the 2021 points structure. A pole will be worth 35 points, with 32 points for a second-place qualifier, 30 for third, etc. down to 30th place in each class.
Points from qualifying will be awarded for all drivers in each car in addition to each team. Each manufacturer’s highest-qualifying car also will earn points toward the manufacturers’ championship.
“The introduction of qualifying points will bring even more excitement to our event weekends and the season championship,” said Doonan. “With points on the line, we expect teams will go all out in qualifying as well as the races to earn as many points as possible. Qualifying points also will reward a team’s performance throughout an entire weekend.”
• Qualifying sessions for WeatherTech Championship LMP2, LMP3 and GTD classes will be broken into two segments and split between two drivers. The first segment will see Am drivers on new sets of tires in each car to set its starting position.
At the end of the Am segment, there will be a mandatory driver and tire change. The driver in the second segment will qualify for championship points, also using new tires. The tires used in both qualifying segments must be used in the race, and all qualifying tires are considered part of each team’s event tire allocation.
“Including multiple drivers in qualifying for our Pro-Am classes provides some unique opportunities,” Doonan said. “The Am drivers will continue to play the ultimate role of establishing each car’s starting position, while the Pro drivers should contribute to further showcasing each car’s performance.”
The DPi and GTLM qualifying structure continues as it was in 2020, with each car being qualified by a single driver and also earning championship points.
• IMSA fans will have as many as five classes to follow during WeatherTech Championship events next season.
The Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes will be joined by a new class — Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) — at selected events.
A new generation of LMP3 models will be introduced to IMSA competition in 2021-’22 from four approved constructors — Ligier, Duqueine Engineering, Ginetta and Adess — using 455 horsepower, Nissan VK56 engines.
New LMP3 cars or earlier models that have been updated to the new Evo will be eligible for WeatherTech Championship LMP3 competition.
Both the LMP2 and LMP3 classes will compete for points in six 2021 WeatherTech Championship races. The Rolex 24 at Daytona serves as a stand-alone event that only counts toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup for LMP2 and LMP3.
Driver combinations in LMP2 include a mandatory Bronze-rated driver – consistent with 2020 regulations – but now permit a maximum of one Platinum-rated driver for all races.
The Bronze-rated LMP2 class champion will earn the Jim Trueman Award and an invitation to participate in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Two options for LMP3 driver combinations are currently under consideration. One option includes a minimum of one Bronze-rated Am driver and one Pro driver rated Silver or Gold.
The other option includes an Am driver that is either Bronze-rated or a Silver driver under the age of 25 during the 2021 season, as well as a Pro driver that is either Gold rated or Silver over the age of 25 on the day of their first 2021 WeatherTech Championship event.