The future class and series structure for LMP3 cars in IMSA has not been decided beyond next year according to series president John Doonan.
Confirmed during Friday’s ‘State of the Sport’ address, IMSA Prototype Challenge will continue as a standalone series in 2022, despite initial considerations of consolidating all LMP3 machinery into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
While having expected to extend LMP3’s eligibility in the WeatherTech Championship beyond 2022, Doonan told Sportscar365 that its current two-year commitment still stands, with no further news at this time.
Despite some uncertainty for what the platform could hold for 2023 and beyond, Doonan reiterated its importance within the IMSA landscape.
“We see it as two-fold,” he told Sportscar365.
“One we see it as a launch pad for the next generation of young talent but it’s also a destination for some folks that are not full-time race drivers that think that’s the right platform for them and the best value for the money opportunity.
“We talked to the community and the paddock and they felt like there was still a keen amount of interest in having an IPC championship, which we’re doing.
“LMP3 in WeatherTech has proven to be a good placement for us. Who knows what the future holds.”
When asked if LMP3 could be extended in the WeatherTech Championship amid the start of the kickoff of the LMDh era in 2023, Doonan said “maybe [we’ll] have more news by this time next year, but we don’t know.”
This weekend’s round at Road America sees a series-high seven entries in the class, including two IPC regulars that are making its WeatherTech Championship debuts.
“The cool thing of what we hoped for was to have some IPC choosing to come run WeatherTech,” Doonan said.
“We’ve got Jr III and Wulver and some others who are doing both. Those are doing this weekend because that’s what their customers wanted.”
Doonan Expecting Increased Field Sizes for 2022, Beyond
With an influx of LMP3 machinery, at least for the short-term, and the arrival of LMDh in 2023, Doonan believes the WeatherTech Championship could return to capacity grids at many of the races in the coming years.
Sportscar365 understands there has been a significant demand for LMP3 programs in the WeatherTech Championship next year, which could further reinforce the grids, especially in the Michelin Endurance Cup races.
“If I could look into a crystal ball, I’d love to see us have 50-60 car fields at the big races where we have the space, half of them being prototypes and half of them being GT cars,” he said. “That would be wonderful.
“We’re looking at all of the facilities because clearly you run into some issues with pit lane space and paddock space and things like that. So we’re studying that right now.”
Doonan said he would “hope not” to have to make further splits in the class structures for races due to track capacity.
“There’s some sweet spot numbers for a field size,” he said. “I think that 50-60 number at Daytona is pretty sweet.”