While technical regulations for next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship are now in the process of being released, drivers in the paddock, particularly those who plan to compete in the Pro-Am ranked classes, still have questions over their eligibility for next year.
Both the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona categories will see a mandate of at least one Bronze or Silver-rated driver per car, with more likely for the endurance races, where up to five-driver lineups will be allowed for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
But with an influx of GRAND-AM drivers, many of whom were previously not rated, along with new and existing drivers that may need to be re-evaluated, there still appears to be a lot at play with less than three months to go before the season-opener in Daytona.
“That’s something we need to get going on quickly because guys are trying to put their deals together,” said Scot Elkins, IMSA’s VP of competition and technical regulations.
Elkins said he’s in the process of finalizing a committee, comprised of IMSA staff and outside representatives, that will be tasked with rating drivers. Previously, IMSA’s ratings, influenced by the FIA and ACO’s global standard, had been at Elkins’ discretion.
“What we should be able to do with the committee is pass everything around via email and get everybody’s input,” he said. “It would be an odd number [of committee numbers] so it would be a very clear deal. We’ll have a driver representative, an outside representative, etc, something that makes sense. It should be able to go pretty quickly.”
One change for 2014 could come in the simplification of the categories. With four different ratings currently being used, based on the FIA’s medallion system, Elkins believes both the professional-grade Platinum and Gold ratings as well as the Silver and Bronze tiers reserved for amateur drivers, can be merged into a simpler two-category format.
“For us, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have Gold and Platinum and Bronze and Silver,” Elkins said. “For all intents and purposes, those two ratings mean the same thing. It kind of overcomplicates it a bit. I think we can nail that down and sort it out.”
As for the actual class sporting regulations, which would mandate a minimum and maximum number of Pro or Am drivers allowed in each lineup, along with minimum drive times, Elkins says that’s also in the process of being finalized.
“We know the minimum drive times need to go up compared to what GRAND-AM had,” he said. “We’ve heard that from the paddock and know that for a fact. What they’re going to be, we’re not sure. A lot is going to depend on what the lineups are in terms of the ratings and what’s required. How many pros, how many amateurs, and how that’s going to structure.”
With a maximum of five drivers allowed per car at Daytona, four at Sebring, and three everywhere else, it adds another layer to the sporting regulations in PC and GTD. However, Elkins said he expects both classes to follow the same requirements.
“A 24-hour race is dramatically different than a 12-hour race so we need to do a lot of talking and have a lot of discussions,” Elkins added. “With the season being over, we now have the ability to sit down and work through this stuff and knock it out pretty quickly, I hope.”
While not giving any definite timeframe, Elkins said he hopes to begin finalizing the Pro-Am sporting regulations within the next couple of weeks.