Ben Keating believes IMSA’s plan to eliminate all ‘Super Silvers’ from the GT Daytona class is an “impossible” task, amid the sanctioning body’s claims to crack down on the global driver rating epidemic.
IMSA announced last weekend the formation of a driver evaluation committee, which will review each driver’s recorded pace in WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races and relay suggested reclassifications to the FIA, which controls the worldwide ratings system.
The committee, headed by veteran IMSA official Paul Walter, will also hold the right to adjust driver’s categorization based on the “specific nature” in the series.
While IMSA President Scott Atherton says Super Silvers, to the best of its ability, will “be a thing of the past”, the Riley Motorsports driver, and other GTD participants argue that it cannot be achieved under the current regulations.
“They say they’re going to get rid of the ‘Super Silvers’ but it’s impossible,” Keating told Sportscar365. “There’s always going to be somebody that will sneak through.
“I was not 100 percent satisfied with what was said [at the State of the Series] because I just don’t believe that IMSA is willing to flex their muscle and do the asterisk on the bottom and re-rate anyone they want.
“They can but I have serious doubts whether they will.
“If Katherine Legge and Justin Marks and Kyle Marcelli all get re-rated to Gold and those teams go out and hire Trent Hindman and Cameron Lawrence… Once the driver ratings come out and the factory teams find a whole new batch of Silvers, is IMSA really going to say, No?”
Michael Shank, however, has urged to give the newly assembled committee a chance before jumping to conclusion.
Both of Meyer Shank Racing’s Silver-rated drivers, Katherine Legge and Justin Marks, could end up fitting into IMSA’s new purely data-driven criteria that forms the basis of potential reclassifications.
“I support what they’re doing with the Silvers and I understand the logic behind that,” Shank told Sportscar365.
“There’s going to be some slippery stuff still. It’s just inevitable. People will slide through the cracks that they don’t have enough data on.
“But let’s see and give Paul [Walter] a chance to get through all of this.”
Fellow team owner Will Turner, meanwhile, believes the newly pledged driver enforcements will help lead to the elimination of factory or heavily works-supported teams in the Pro-Am-based class.
“If you eliminate fake Silvers then you give value to the gentlemen drivers, who will then come back to the series and compete against other gentlemen drivers and not compete against factories that have the money to hire fake Silvers,” Turner told Sportscar365.
“This should eliminate a lot of the factory involvement. A program will have to run with a legitimate Silver.
“If IMSA really does that and does that well, then I think it will be a trickle effect and it will help GTD programs where you’ll have more gentlemen drivers.”
Keating, however, is skeptical it will lead to fewer manufacturer-backed teams on the grid.
“I really dislike the fact there’s some factory teams out there, with factory budgets and all-pro lineups,” he said.
“I think there will always be Super Silvers and I don’t think IMSA will be willing to flex its muscle against these factory programs that are paying so much money to be here.”
Atherton: “Full Court Press” to Resolve Driver Ratings Dilemma
IMSA has put all of its resources behind the Driver Evaluation Committee, according to Atherton, who said it will not be a “one and done” process.
“It’s relatively limited when you think there’s 3,000 rated drivers and there’s probably a dozen described that can be as problematic,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“But those dozen that are problematic are causing problems so we’re going to address that once and for all, and not a once and done and on an ongoing basis.”
Atherton said the re-classification recommendations to the FIA will be made prior to the publishing of the first draft release of the 2019 FIA driver ratings, which typically comes out in November.
While holding the right to make adjustments on its own, IMSA will not adjust any drivers mid-season.