IMSA President John Doonan has reaffirmed that its event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will move ahead as planned despite Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement that appears set to impact participation from multiple teams and personnel.
The July 1-3 event, recently confirmed as the Chevrolet Grand Prix, will feature the DPi, LMP3, GTD Pro and GTD classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge series.
While having sent out a bulletin last month confirming the event, the CTMP round has been met with some resistance from those who are unvaccinated and would not be able to attend.
Per Canada’s current rules, all persons entering the country are required to show proof of having at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted by the government, a mix of two accepted vaccines or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The CTMP event will mark IMSA’s first trip outside the U.S. since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s still a go,” Doonan told Sportscar365.
“We have been in contact with teams and drivers and OEMs and because of the mandate and people’s personal choices, there are some folks that aren’t vaccinated so therefore they don’t meet the requirements to go into Canada.
“I wish it were different but that’s the mandate. IMSA has had a longstanding partnership with CTMP, Ron Fellows, Miles [Brandt] and we have an agreement go run a race.
“Fortunately after three years, they have the ability to host one. We’re going and from what they say, the fans are super excited to see us back.
“I know it presents logistical challenges for all of us. But we’re ready to go.”
Multiple championship-contending teams from at least three of the WeatherTech Championship classes have indicated they will not go to CTMP if the current vaccine requirement stands. A similar number of Pilot Challenge teams are understood to be skipping the event as well.
Based on paddock conversations during last weekend’s round at Mid-Ohio, Sportscar365 believes that as much as 25 percent of the paddock could be unvaccinated, although Doonan said the sanctioning body does not have any concrete information at this time.
“It’s people’s personal information,” he said. “During the time when we were still doing [COVID-19] screening, we asked people [their vaccination status] to get a read. But it’s hard to tell on that information.”
Doonan confirmed suggestions from competitors for the race to either not count for championship points or IMSA allow teams to drop their worst result from the season, although the sanctioning body is holding firm in not making any adjustments to the sporting regulations.
“We didn’t think that was the right move,” Doonan said.
Sportscar365 understands that several teams had pitched the idea of replacing CTMP with a second round at Watkins Glen — as was the case last year — although that proposal was also shot down by IMSA.
“If they chose not to go, obviously they wouldn’t score points for that event but they would still be eligible for the year-end championship,” Doonan said.
“I sincerely hope everyone finds a way to go. We’re going.”