The LMP3 formula will make its mainstream North American race debut next year in IMSA competition, in the repositioned IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.
The newly named series evolves from the IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires for 2017, and will feature two classes of cars, mixing new and existing IMSA platforms.
LMP3 chassis from up to six manufacturers will compete in PC1, with the global Nissan-based V8 engine, while the PC2 class will consist of the existing Elan DP02 cars, running with Mazda engines.
The latter is currently used in the Lites L1 class of the Mazda Prototype Lites series, from which the new IMSA Prototype Challenge championship is created.
The existing Lites L2 cars will no longer be eligible from after 2016.
Furthermore, no Balance of Performance will be utilized to either category.
“IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda will provide great racing for our fans and an ideal platform for young talent and seasoned drivers to compete in a two-class competition environment,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.
“[This makes] it an ideal training ground for advancement into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“We have sought feedback from and worked closely with our competitors, manufacturers and other constituents to define and create this attractive new pathway to prototypes.”
The series will feature a 13-round calendar for 2017, starting at Sebring in mid-March and finishing in early October.
Nine of these rounds will take place during WeatherTech Championship weekends. Most rounds will have two races at 45 minutes each, in a single-driver format.
“Mazda is committed to providing development opportunities for drivers, teams and crews,” said Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan.
“The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda is a perfect step for those wanting to move up the ladder in our Mazda Road to 24 program.
“The #MRT24 is designed to help sports car racers go from grassroots racing all the way to the top level of North American road racing.”
IMSA Prototype Challenge races will be broadcast live on IMSA.tv, as well as tape-delayed coverage on an as-yet-unannounced cable network.
2017 IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Schedule:
March 17-18 – Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida*
April 21-23 – Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
June 30-July 2 – Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York*
July 7-9 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario*
July 21-22 – Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Connecticut* **
Aug. 11-13 – Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Quebec
Oct. 5-7 – Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia*
* — In conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events
** — Will feature a single, 45-minute race