The GT Daytona class is set to see a series of cost-cutting changes for 2019 that will also include an expected clampdown on driver ratings in the Pro-Am-enforced category.
It comes amid rising budgets for competitors and a depleted field that’s largely made up of Silver-rated drivers that don’t bring significant funding to their teams.
Sportscar365 has learned that among the multiple areas that have been evaluated include a possible reduction from 11 to ten races, a restriction on the number of crew members and a significant cut in testing allowances.
IMSA President Scott Atherton confirmed that specific information on the changes will be communicated during next month’s “State of the Series” address at Road America, which will include the release of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.
“The decision-making and the news that will be announced will be the byproduct of what I believe is the most comprehensive process we’ve ever done,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“We’ve met face-to-face with every stakeholder of every description. From team owners to drivers to suppliers to manufacturers with an open mind of no bad idea can come out of this process.”
While not confirming specifics, Atherton indicated there’s been many areas the sanctioning body has been working through, all of which largely fall under the sporting and competition departments.
“It covers a broad spectrum of things from weekend schedules to personnel to testing to replacement parts pricing, you name it,” he said.
“Driver rating configurations within the cars… We’ve looked at every facet.
“It’s, at times, frustrating, because you look at the diversity of the teams and its rare that you can find any example that everybody agrees with.
“What do you do? You try to make the best, most educated decision you can based on the information you got.
“It’s been an interesting process, and I give a lot of credit to Simon [Hodgson, VP Competition] and his team who really led this, along with David Pettit [VP Marketing] because there’s a marketing component to this as well.”
While a Bronze-rated driver enforcement per lineup had been evaluated, Sportscar365 understands that IMSA could instead follow the SRO and ACO in making its own deviations to the FIA drivers’ ratings list that would prohibit questionable lineups.
Keating: GTD Currently Struggling with ‘Class Spirit’
Ben Keating, who is one of the few remaining gentleman drivers in GTD, believes the category has struggled in recent years to maintain its initial objective of providing amateur drivers a competitive platform to race.
“Right now we’re struggling with the spirit of the class,” Keating told Sportscar365.
“I can’t blame Acura or Lexus for coming here with a factory program. They don’t have a GTLM car and they’re following the rules, to how it’s written.
“But the spirit of the class [should be] that it’s a true GT Am deal. I’m excited about some of the changes being made to hopefully bring back some of that.”
Keating has praised IMSA for the process it’s underwent to gain competitor feedback during the re-evaluation process.
“I’ve been very vocal about some of my ideas,” he said. “They really liked some of them and they have not really liked some of them. That’s OK. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of their ideas that I wasn’t thinking of.
“I’ve been in this series for six years and I’ve never seen this type of collaborative effort to make it better for the spirit of the class.
“There have been a lot of really good ideas for making it less expensive and to where a gentleman driver can come here and be really competitive.”