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