GT Le Mans teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will have one additional fuel choice next year, with E20 having been approved for competition, a blend that’s expected to be used by the majority of competitors.
E20 (20 percent ethanol, 80 percent gasoline) joins the previously permitted E10 and cellulosic E85 fuels as approved for the GTLM class, a move that was made, according to IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton, to provide a fuel option similar to one used at Le Mans.
“We were approached by some manufacturers that expressed a desire to have E20 added as another fuel option,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “It doesn’t replace anything; it’s an incremental offer.
“The motivation was to match up the same fuel characteristics in this championship as they use at Le Mans and in some cases the WEC.”
Defending Le Mans GTE-Pro class winners Corvette Racing has confirmed to Sportscar365 that it will make the switch from E85 to E20 for IMSA competition next year, with the new Ford GTs, which will also compete full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship, set to use E20 as well.
While all eight of the GTLM cars ran on E85 this year, Atherton is hopeful not everyone makes the switch to the new, globally compatible fuel.
“I hope there will be some that will continue with E85 because I think, for us, it’s our fuel of choice in terms of its connectivity to our green racing initiatives,” he said.
“That’s not to say E20 is not an acceptable alternative fuel. It is. And again, we’re utilizing cellulosic ethanol.”
The American Le Mans Series had been a trailblazer in alternative fuel technologies, first introducing E85 in 2008, which had been used by Corvette Racing ever since.
“If we can demonstrate that E20 is a compatible fuel in our environment, just as we did with E85, it could open up opportunities for increased ethanol content as a consumer fuel,” Atherton said.
Atherton said E20 fuel will only be eligible for GTLM competition, with the other three classes remaining exclusively on E10.