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IMSA Launches Sprint Cup for GTD

IMSA launches WeatherTech Sprint Cup for GT Daytona competitors…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

IMSA will launch a seven-race sprint series for GT Daytona competitors next year within the existing WeatherTech SportsCar Championship framework.

The WeatherTech Sprint Cup was among the items revealed Friday evening during the sanctioning body’s ‘State of the Series’ address at Road America that also included confirmation of the 2019 schedule.

All of the two-hour and 40-minute races on the WeatherTech Championship schedule, along with the to-be-confirmed 100-minute race at Belle Isle, will count towards the new Sprint Cup title.

It will result in a compact season, kicking off at Mid-Ohio in May and concluding in September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

While utilizing the same points system and sporting regulations as GTD, the Sprint Cup is aimed to create additional opportunities for teams in the Pro-Am-enforced platform, according to IMSA President Scott Atherton.

The creation of the Sprint Cup results in three different titles within the GTD architecture, with seperate championships to continue to be awarded in the four-round Michelin Endurance Cup and overall WeatherTech Championship GTD season, which has been reduced to ten rounds.

The to-be-confirmed event at Belle Isle will run to Sprint Cup points only for GTD competitors.

Winners of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup will be recognized alongside champions in the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Endurance Cup.

“The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup is a product of constructive feedback from a series of conversations with GTD stakeholders,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.

“Beginning next season, GTD competitors have the opportunity to compete for three different IMSA titles.

“The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup offers GTD drivers and teams a relatively cost-effective option to compete at the top level of North American sports car racing.”

WeatherTech founder and CEO David MacNeil added: “Putting emphasis on the sprint rounds should attract new competitors to our brand of sports car racing.

“More cars on the track makes for more excitement for the fans and a better show for television.”

Increased Focus on Bronze/Silvers; Driver Evaluation Committee Developed

IMSA will place an increased focus on Bronze and Silver-rated drivers in GTD, with dedicated track time prior to qualifying in the creation of an additional practice session.

Additionally, the Bronze/Silver will be required to qualify and start the races.

The sanctioning body will also crack down on questionable driver ratings with the formation of the IMSA Driver Evaluation Committee, which will recommend rating changes to the FIA.

The committee, chaired by veteran IMSA official Paul Walter, will review each driver’s recorded pace based on both the FIA’s established criteria and IMSA’s standardized BoP driver’s weighted average lap time distribution.

Results will be shared with the FIA for ratings re-consideration.

Similar to that of the SRO and ACO, IMSA will retain the right to adjust a drivers’ rating based on the specific nature of the championship, but will not make any in-season changes.

2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup Schedule:
May 3-5 — Mid-Ohio
May 31-June 1 — Belle Isle*
July 5-7 — Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
July 19-20 — Lime Rock Park
Aug. 2-4 — Road America
Aug. 23-25 — Virginia International Raceway
Sept. 13-15 — WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

*Subject to final local government approval

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. jason

    August 3, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Teams have 9 months now to plan this sprint GTD cup season if they choose to do so. Yeah there is plenty of time so we won’t know the fruits of this decision for a long time.

    And also say goodbye to your silver status Madison Snow and Katherine Legge.

  2. Dave

    August 3, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    It’s probably too late to get another track on the schedule, but IMSA should avoid being shaken down by the local government. Revenue for lost income??!! It’s been a while since I’ve been to Detroit, but is Belle Isle all that that the attractions suffer relative to the additional paying traffic for the race?

  3. Prototype 1

    August 4, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Will the Sprint Cup attract more Manafactures like Bentley, Callaway, Nissan and McLaren to GTD and the WTSC?

    • Northstar

      August 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

      I don’t think Bentley is interested unless they’re going for overall wins. Callaway and Nissan are both eligible and just need a team wanting to run them.

      McLaren is an odd one as nobody seems to want to race their GT3 cars. Hopefully that will change with the upcoming 720.

      • MikeK

        August 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

        Don’t forget that Mclaren and Bentley need to pay that manufacturer/marketing fee before they are allowed in IMSA. With three GTD championships, they will definitely pay up because they don’t want to be left out on the explosive growth GTD will see in 2019. having a new PC class and now three GTD championships, I feel that there needs to be a GT2 class in IMSA. More classes and championships equals better racing for the fans.

  4. Old Trombone

    August 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

    So being an “amateur” depends on your speed, not your pay? And Hamilton or Vettel or Ricciardo could show up, drive like grandma, and get a silver certificate?

    Or is F1 now the only series where an amateur can race without needing worry about their speed?

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