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2017 IMSA Silly Season Update 2: Prototype Challenge

A look at the confirmed and possible Prototype Challenge teams for 2017…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

In the second Silly Season update, Sportscar365 explores the confirmed and possible entries for the Prototype Challenge class, which is set for its final season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017.

Confirmed Full-Season (1 car):

BAR1 Motorsports – The Brian Alder-led team will return with at least one Oreca FLM09 for the year, while working on a second full-season entry. Two cars are already confirmed for the season-opener at Daytona. Drivers have yet to be announced but will feature a mix of current and new drivers, with the first full-season lineup already confirmed. A third entry hasn’t been completely ruled out. (1-2 cars)

Possible/Limited Season Entries (2-3 cars):

Performance Tech – Series stalwarts Performance Tech is targeting a return with a single entry but yet to finalize a deal. A final decision will be made by later this week. (1 car possible)

Starworks Motorsport – The reigning PC class champions have yet to confirm a full-season entry, although the chances of the Peter Baron-led team contesting at least the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races with up to two Oreca FLM09s remains strong. It’s believed Sean Rayhall and John Falb have already been signed for Daytona. (1-2 cars, partial season?)

Not Returning:

The majority of 2016 teams will not return with five-time class champions CORE autosport moving to GT Daytona and PR1/Mathiasen Motorports and JDC-Miller Motorports stepping up to the Prototype class with Ligier JS P217 Gibson and Oreca 07 Gibson programs, respectively.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. pierre

    December 23, 2016 at 9:47 am

    is there a minimum?

  2. el_gordo

    December 23, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I’m honestly a bit disappointed. Many people hate the nascarization factor but PC derived cautions often stacked the field for exciting finishes in GTLM, GTD, and DP.

    • Tim

      December 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Haha he said there only good for cautions! Haha

      • NorthSask

        December 23, 2016 at 11:03 am

        *they’re*

    • Not Nick

      December 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

      So true lol

      • Jenner

        December 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

        They throw FCC with 2 to go every Sun in NASCRAP circle jerk racing.

        Do fans complain when there’s a 40 car trophy dash with a pile up at the end of the race?

        The fights that follow is good for extra excitement too.

        Formula should work for IMSA too. That way they can brag about closes finishes in IMSA history.

        • Larry

          December 23, 2016 at 2:13 pm

          That’s because NASCAR is geared towards the same type of fan that thinks pro ‘rasslin is real.

          Sports car fans are a bit brighter than that.

          • Andy Flinn

            December 23, 2016 at 10:49 pm

            Larry, sports car fans are more elitist than NASCAR fans that’s for sure.

            However, significantly more Anericans still prefer to watch NASCAR races than sports car racing, Indy Car racing and F1 racibg COMBINED.

            That’s because they prefer, above all else, competitive racing.

        • GTurner38

          December 23, 2016 at 8:04 pm

          It’s a different type of race fan. They tried to do the phantom debris caution at the Rolex 24 to get an exciting finish and the response was (rightfully) entirely negative. I understand that the fanbase is much smaller in sports car racing, so there may be the temptation to NASCARize it, but you better bee sure you’ll get the NASCAR fans since you could end out losing the fans you have.

          • Kirk

            December 23, 2016 at 11:31 pm

            Yep. Sports car fans enjoy it because it’s different than NASCAR. It seems pretty stupid to me to try and turn sports car racing into something it’s not. It’s like saying lots of people like Taylor Swift so to improve music sales every singer should sound and look like Taylor Swift. Just because sports car racing isn’t as big as NASCAR doesn’t mean it’s any less important to those of us who enjoy it. I don’t care if NASCAR makes millions. Just don’t change the type of racing I enjoy.

    • Jason

      December 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      The frequency of the yellows ruins the integrity of the endurance race. The gaps that is built between cars should mean something and always be artificially erased.

    • Mike S.

      December 23, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Yeah they only got highlighted for their yellows even though when the racing was better than the Dp’s or GT cars they got no love from the great Fox Sports so people only saw the negatives. I think the PC served its purpose and time to move to the P3.

  3. Tim

    December 23, 2016 at 10:50 am

    If someone else doesnt end up committed to a full season I see Bar1 doing maybe the first 4 races then droping to a NAEC only program. Why waste all the money to do a full schedule by your self in a class that will no longer be available in 2018. Save that money and put it towards a 2018 program

    • N8

      December 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Preparation for something bigger in 2018?

      You say save the money, but there probably won’t be an opportunity to run an IWSC category with PC sized budget ever again. I actually thought IMSA’s last season of Pro-Am prototype racing as part of the “big show” would have attracted a fair bit of amateur interest, at least for Daytona and Sebring.

    • Cactus Tony

      December 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      It’s a customer program. BAR1 will do what the customer(s) want to do. Running as the only car in the class may seem pointless to you, but if it keeps Alder’s guys more than marginally employed for the next year then I’d say it’s a win-win.

      I know this is difficult for some people to understand.

  4. Steve

    December 23, 2016 at 11:01 am

    IMSA should allow this class in just the NAEC races. No need for them to take the teams money for a 1-3 car grid. Get these paid drivers focusing on moving to a different class!

    • GTurner38

      December 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      The problem is that it means the pro drivers lose work. If they made the decision 6 months ago, everyone from the pro drivers looking for a paycheck to the team owners and am drivers putting together a budget would have known what they were looking at and considered their options.

    • Andy Flinn

      December 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Steve, IMSA promised that there would be a full-season PC class in 2017.

      Pulling the plug on BAR1’s plans at this point serms a bit late and would be a dumb move.

      By the way, IMSA can’t force the pay drivers to race in another class – especially if they can’t afford it.

  5. Race Fan

    December 23, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Funny how everyone complains about a 2-3 car grid in PC but no one had a problem when we had only 2 LMP1s in the waning years of the ALMS.

    • Doug

      December 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      two BESPOKE cars are very different from two SPEC cars.

      • GTurner38

        December 23, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        Actually the two LMP1s were worse for the series. They created a situation in which teams knew they couldn’t win outright in an LMP2, so that class struggled while everyone ended out in LMPC.

      • Jackson P.

        December 24, 2016 at 12:54 am

        Right, the two bespoke cars generated the most boring racing of the year due to their performance gaps (and better drivers for the most part of the season in the Muscle Milk car).

    • Jeffrey Wagner

      December 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      We all had a problem with that smart *** but it was the elephant in the room. EVERYBODY knew Sportscar Racing was in dire need of a merger and the result is where we are now! We were lucky it happened when it did.

    • JeffB

      December 23, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Remember that fabulous 2008 season when GT1 was two Corvettes at 7 out of 11 rounds?

  6. Just a guy

    December 23, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Right on CactusTony!’ Very few ppl realize that this is all just business. IMSA is a business , the teams are businesses. Closing the class for “too few” entries takes food off the table of so may ppl when you trickle down the line.
    Yes this is a form of sport/ entertainment for the fans, but more than anything it is making a living for all the ppl who fill the paddock year after year.

    i urge everyone to download and
    Listen to the “Dinner with racers ” podcast, Michael Shank episode , for some insight into the business side of Sportscar racing.
    Shame on you Sam Hornish!

  7. seth

    December 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    I hate the yellows as much as anyone but PC produces some good racing, you just don’t always see it on TV

  8. LagunaSnaka

    December 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    PC needs to go away. Recall it started as a field-filler for the ALMS 8 seasons ago. Ancient spec prototypes are totally at odds with IMSA’s new improved modern image with the DPi’s, etc.

    • JeffB

      December 23, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      If the new improved modern image is what we are on the precipice of, they why oh why did they insist on calling them Daytona Prototypes? I hate that name.

      I wish they would have gone with the classic GTP designation. That would fit in much better with GTLM and GTD.

      • Andy Flinn

        December 24, 2016 at 1:04 am

        JeffB, an LMP is literally a Le Mans prototype.

        A DP is literally a Daytona prototype.

        What is so hard to understand?

        GTP, aside from being confusing (the DPis are NOT GTs) is dead. Dan Gurney slayed it more than 20 years ago with the Toyota Eagles. There will NEVER be another GTP series. Let it stay dead. Any attempt to revive GTP will only confuse the public further.

  9. juneracer

    December 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    it is time for PC to go away. they served a purpose and that period is over. 3 classes is enough. car counts are up.

    they could reduce the gain or lose under yellow with slow zones or the virtual SC like WEC and ELMS, but that’s not the way here. the intent is entertainment not true competition, and i don’t mean that in a bad way.

    its like the bell lap in inside bicycle racing. its the last portion that matters. but you have to make it to the last part…

    • KW

      December 24, 2016 at 4:02 am

      The decision to replace PC by LMP3 should have been fixed long ago, when defining the new DPi/LMP2 rules for 2017. Now it is too late; now you have to allow the remaining PC teams to have one more year – paid by the drivers – to gain time and money for a preparation towards a different class in 2018.

      • Wheelspin

        December 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

        The LMP3 cars are not quick enough to replace the PC’s. And GTD cost a lot more than PC. Plus GTD is mostly a pro class now. Acura, Lexus, Porsche, and so on. IMSA is holding on to the class for one more year. What ‘s the big deal.

  10. Every2000SuperbowlCommercialRocked

    December 24, 2016 at 3:53 am

    So. Since the interest in PC is so low…what 3 others of you wanna go in on a car with me? Guaranteed podiums.

    • Susafan

      December 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

      I’m in.

      If I had the money 😉

  11. captain fun

    December 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Ginetta is showing that with a bit more grunt, the LMP3 platform can be as quick as 2016 P2. Chevy engined p3 or t current (low state state tune for reliability) suitably re-specced makes p3 perfect pace wise and easier to drive than PC.

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