Henrik Hedman says a full-time switch to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has made “total sense” for himself as a driver in the wake of the LMP2 category’s new Bronze mandate.
Hedman, a race-winner in the European Le Mans Series, has spearheaded DragonSpeed’s return to the series, with the U.S.-based Swede set to team with Ben Hanley for a championship run.
The duo are joined by Harrison Newey and Colin Braun in the team’s Oreca 07 Gibson for this weekend’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
While initially planning to only contest the Rolex 24, the Elton Julian-led team expanded its commitment once IMSA confirmed that each LMP2 car must include at least one Bronze-rated driver.
Speaking to Sportscar365, Hedman explained the level of competition in the ELMS, which has maintained its driver rating requirements for 2020, coupled with the newly created “level playing field” in IMSA left him with with an easy decision.
“In the ELMS, there’s so many good Silvers,” Hedman said. “It’s really hard.
“We ended up fifth in the championship. The best we could have done with some luck would have been third.
“We can’t do much better in ELMS with me in the car.
“Here in IMSA, by spending the money and spending the time, we actually have a chance of winning the championship.
“It’s on a level playing field. I’m super happy.”
Hedman will be making his first full-season effort in North America since 2015 when he competed in what was known as Pirelli World Challenge, also with DragonSpeed.
“I’ve always liked racing in the U.S.,” said the former Ferrari Challenge driver.
“I’ve been traveling a lot back and forth to Europe and it’s been hard on my family. Now I can bring them to the races. It’s two less days of traveling. For it makes total sense.
“I’ve talked to Elton about it. I wish more [gentlemen drivers] would take the step and go to the prototype because it’s a fantastic driving experience.”
Julian: LMP2 Needs More Exposure
Team principal Julian is pushing for IMSA to help raise the profile of the LMP2 class, which features five entries for Daytona.
The category featured two cars for the majority of the season last year, prompting the sanctioning body to create a reduced six-round championship and the Bronze driver mandate.
A total of seven cars were initially due to take part this weekend but two were withdrawn due to budget and driver-related issues.
“I believe the series needs to put their weight behind the class and promote it as an appealing class to the other categories, like GTD,” Julian told Sportscar365.
“If you continue to treat us as also-rans in the press and in the media, it’s not fun to go there.
“[Ben] Keating is going to be our No. 1 voice for this formula this weekend. Everything he’s said already has been positive. But we want to be in the show.”