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2015 VIR Race Format Under Review

IMSA evaluating format shakeup for 2015 Oak Tree Grand Prix…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

With the first-ever TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT-only race in the books, IMSA is evaluating the format for next year’s trip to Virginia International Raceway.

Last weekend’s Oak Tree Grand Prix featured a two-hour and 45-minute GT Le Mans/GT Daytona feature race, alongside a pair of 45-minute sprint races for Prototype Challenge teams, which shared the track with cars from IMSA Prototype Lites.

Despite all three classes being locked into returning to VIR in 2015, IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton said they could end up with a different look to this year’s event.

“We like the idea of what this race represents, which is an opportunity for the GTLM to win overall,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “That’s the way it was originally envisioned when we sat down with Connie [Nyholm, VIR owner/CEO] and spoke about our intentions were for this weekend, that was the primary focus.

“That said, while I think the Prototype Challenge and IMSA Prototype Lites cars have played well together, that wouldn’t be our first choice, to continue that. It worked as good or better than we hoped, but it’s not optimum for us.”

Sunday’s GTLM/GTD race featured a thrilling late-race battle for the win, which gave the production-based cars time in the spotlight as overall winners of the event.

PC teams, however, were presented with their second combined sprint race event with Lites cars, a format which a number of team owners and drivers have not been in favor of.

“The challenge is: Do you just continue in that format?” Atherton asked. “Do you alter the format? Do you join the PC cars with the GTLM and GTD? That’s easy but then you automatically take away the opportunity for the overall win for the GTLM cars.

“Its under review and a work in progress with details to follow.”

A combined three-class race, a standalone PC race, or a return with the same 2014 format are all considerations, according to Atherton.

“All of those options are possible,” he said. “I’d say the least likely would be a standalone Prototype Challenge race. There’s just not enough content there.”

The addition of the Prototype class, which could theoretically pair with PC cars for its own race, is not being considered, Atherton said, due to the finalization of the 2015 calendar and the already confirmed 10-race format for each class.

Atherton said it’s their goal to have the VIR race format details sorted out by this year’s season-ending Petit Le Mans.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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