LMP3 cars could be added to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year in an effort to bolster the grid with additional prototype machinery.
Sportscar365 has learned that the sanctioning body is evaluating a move that would potentially see LMP3 cars race alongside LMP2 and DPi machinery in a newly formed third prototype class.
While a decision has yet to be made, multiple proposals appear to have been floated to stakeholders in recent weeks, including the possibility of consolidating the current IMSA Prototype Challenge series into the WeatherTech Championship.
IPC, which is made up exclusively of LMP3 machinery contesting mostly 1-hour and 45-minute races, has featured between 13-15 entries since its season restart at Sebring in July.
When reached by Sportscar365, an IMSA spokesperson said they have no information to share on the topic at this time.
Whether new-generation LMP3 cars, which debuted this year in the European Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup, would be the only LMP3 cars permitted in the WeatherTech Championship remains unclear.
Ligier Automotive North America is holding a test with its new-gen Ligier JS P320, featuring a more powerful ORECA-tuned Nissan V8 powerplant, today at Carolina Motorsports Park for prospective customers.
Ginetta, Duqueine Automotive (formerly Norma) and ADESS also hold licenses from the ACO to build LMP3 machinery, although only the Ligier and the Duqueine D-08 have taken part in races so far this year.
Current IMSA competitors have had mixed reactions to the proposal, with one prototype team principal stating that it’s a “knee-jerk reaction” to help fill the grid in the WeatherTech Championship.
“I don’t know if it’s a good idea,” the team principal, who asked not to be named, told Sportscar365.
“The way it’s been presented to me is that it would be an option [in WeatherTech Championship] and not the direction of the [entire] class.
“Frankly, I don’t think the guys paying the bills in the P3 class right now are necessarily interested in doubling their budgets and having to perform at a way higher level.
“When you look at the class right now, the paying guys are in their 60s and 70s and they’re having fun. So why spoil that?
“If it’s an option and a guy wants to occasionally enter a [WeatherTech Championship] race, sure, why not? But I can already hearing the crying on the other side.”
According to another prototype team boss, the budget for a LMP3 car to contest the current LMP2 season does not produce a significant savings and could end up being more expensive if the cars prove to be unreliable in long-distance endurance races, which the platform has not been designed for.
He estimated a 20 percent savings in costs, when considering that a six-race LMP2 season — not including the Rolex 24 at Daytona — currently costs roughly $1.5 million.
“I don’t have the magic answer if it’s going to be a good or bad thing,” he told Sportscar365. “I think it could potentially be a strange thing.
“Do they need more prototype cars in the field? Yes. But do you want 13 P3 cars in their current form in the field? I’d have to say no.
“It’s not the magic bullet but it’s where they have cars to pull from.
“To some extent I think it is a good idea but I think you have to fix what you have before you implement more ideas.”