A number of GT Daytona class teams are undecided on taking part in next month’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Detroit due to the event’s unique position within the championship.
The 100-minute DPi and GTD-only race on Belle Isle will count only towards WeatherTech Sprint Cup points for GTD teams and not the overall WeatherTech Championship, which has been reduced to ten rounds this year.
The change, which came at the request of competitors on cost-savings measures, has now put some teams in difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.
Two-time and defending Detroit class winners Meyer Shank Racing are among the teams on the fence in yet to commit to the event and thus also be eligible for the inaugural Sprint Cup title.
“It’s just financial, how can we make it work? It’s outside of what we all agreed to,” team co-owner Shank told Sportscar365.
“The hard thing is that we’ve won there the last two years.
“For all the good reasons, the car has done well there. It’s hard not to go to it when we think we can be reasonably competitive there.”
Shank said a decision, which would have to come “soon” could see the team field one or both of its Acura NSX GT3 Evos and could be dependent on the result in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, the first of seven races on the Sprint Cup calendar.
Park Place Motorsports is taking a similar wait-and-see approach in evaluating how this weekend goes, according to the team’s director of operations Mike Johnson.
“If we have a good run out of here, if Marco [Seefried] and Pat [Long] put a good race together, then I’d imagine we’d go. If it’s a total disaster, we probably won’t,” Johnson told Sportscar365.
Adding further complication is that the Detroit event falls on the Le Mans Test Day weekend, which has seen Riley Motorsports elect to skip the race in order for Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, as well as selected members of its crew, to focus exclusively on Le Mans.
WEC GTE-Am points leader Patrick Lindsey faces a similar situation, with Seefried likely to again step in for the Park Place team owner/driver in Detroit, and potentially the remainder of the Sprint Cup races, if the team is to commit to this race.
“Marco has one or two conflicts so we don’t know how [it will work out,” Johnson said. “Patrick has conflicts. Right now we’re going to get through this weekend and figure it out.”
In addition to MSR and Park Place, Pfaff Motorsports is also currently undecided, while both Riley Motorsports and Moorespeed have already ruled out running in Detroit.
It’s understood the costs involved for the race is in the $100,000 range for a two-car team like Shank’s.
As it stands now, a minimum of nine GTD cars will be on the grid, out of the 15 entries taking part this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
It includes Turner Motorsport, which has had Detroit on its calendar for some time.
“I think one of the advantages of having the different championships is that it gives you more possibilities to do well,” team owner Will Turner told Sportscar365.
“For sure if the budget is there and it works in the schedule, let’s do it.
“It was always a plan to do that one.”
As is the case with the Michelin Endurance Cup, all GTD cars are eligible to score points in the Sprint Cup, although they must enter all seven rounds in order to be eligible for series-specific points and prize money.
Only Compass Racing and Lone Star Racing have been additions to the GTD grid specific to the Sprint Cup races, although the Texas-based team is currently confirmed for a five-round program.