IMSA President Scott Atherton says they remain fully committed to LMP2 despite what appears to be a lower-than-expected full-season car count for next year.
The global prototype platform, which has been spun off into its own class for the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, looks set to feature a handful of entrants, with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports so far the only two committed teams.
CORE autosport, which had initially signaled plans to return with an Oreca 07 Gibson, announced on Friday a late switch to the DPi class with a Nissan Onroak DPi formerly owned and run by Extreme Speed Motorsports.
Despite the recent developments, Atherton said there’s “no question” on IMSA’s long-term commitment to the platform.
“We’re definitely moving ahead as planned and scheduled,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “I think it’s a category that has a lot of opportunity. There’s some very good cars available.
“We know where we stand at this point but it will continue to be an area of focus for us. [Friday’s] news was about CORE and DPi… but we’re not certainly taking our eye off the LMP2 ball either.”
Atherton said efforts have been underway to attract additional LMP2 teams to the grid, even prior to CORE’s announcement.
Multiple single-race entries, including at least one Oreca from DragonSpeed, however, are expected to boost class numbers for January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I think we’ll be in reasonably good shape for the Rolex 24, which is important,” Atherton said. “But we’re also focused on the balance of the WeatherTech Championship [season] as well.
“We’re in active dialogue with all of the teams that are known to have LMP2 cars that would be eligible.
“That’s something that’s almost on a daily basis, for us right now. I don’t want to pin a number to it but we’ll continue to keep the dialogue open.”
Nissan Manufacturer Commitment Fulfilled
Atherton confirmed that the manufacturer marketing commitment required for the Nissan DPi to be present on the grid next year has been fulfilled, via a “combination” between the Japanese manufacturer and CORE.
“It’s just like we did with ESM,” he said. “We worked closely with them and the sponsor, which everyone was aware was Tequila Patron.”
Both Atherton and CORE autosport COO Morgan Brady declined to go into details on the arrangements of the deal, although Sportscar365 understands some of the financial requirements could be fulfilled by a new team sponsor.
“There’s more information still to come, in regards to that side of the equation [for CORE],” Atherton said.
“That has been an area of focus that needed to be resolved and we have been successful in that, which enabled the announcement from CORE.”
Atherton said he’s pleased to keep the DPi manufacturer count at four for next year, ahead of the potential for further growth in 2020, with both Ford and Hyundai understood to be evaluating programs.
“The ability to maintain where we are and also continue to have four manufacturers, we’re in a really strong position heading into 2019,” he said.