While growth of the GT Daytona class is expected, with at least seven manufacturers set to be represented on the grid next year, IMSA is looking to limit the new-look category to its official Automotive Partners only.
The production-based category, which transforms into full GT3 specification beginning next year, currently accepts all eligible machinery, no matter the manufacturer’s relationship with the sanctioning body.
However IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton admitted that policy could be changing next year.
“That’s a final decision that hasn’t been made,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “Ideally, everybody involved [in GTD] is an official manufacturer partner. That’s our goal and that’s our expectation.
“But I don’t want to rule anything out at this point. We will base those decisions on a number of factors that will soon be able to determine.”
Out of the six manufacturers currently represented in GTD, only Dodge and Aston Martin are not currently series partners, which requires an annual marketing spend and commitment from the automaker.
On paper, the change would affect programs from both TRG-AMR and Riley Motorsports, as well as privateer teams wishing to bring non-IMSA manufacturer supported GT3 machinery to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Bill Riley told Sportscar365 that Riley/ViperExchange is working with IMSA to become an official partner, while Kevin Buckler was not able to be reached at this time.
Nonetheless, the series expects growth in the class, with IMSA revealing during its “State of the Series” address Saturday evening that three other manufacturers are poised to join its existing Automotive Partners Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Porsche.
Atherton wouldn’t disclose further details, but it’s known that Lamborghini is planning to have a presence with its new Huracán GT3, with Nissan, Bentley and Lexus having all expressed interest in joining the series as well.
Both Lamborghini and Nissan are already series partners through its involvement in IMSA’s development series.
“We’re as confident as you can be until it’s done,” Atherton said of the 2016 GTD prospects. “This is a very difficult and challenging business. You’re depending on board of directors, sometimes in foreign countries to make decisions.
“As you know, we’re fairly conservative on that way. So when we would put something up in a presentation like we gave [on Saturday] night, I think you can take good confidence that we’ll fill in the blanks there soon.”
Additionally, Atherton said the entry process for GTD will remain the same for next year, despite initial rumors that each manufacturer would be allocated a set number of entries to allocate to teams.
“We have had a criteria established for prioritization of who gets an entry,” he said. “We have never allocated X number to a specific manufacturer or limited. It’s always based on the entrant who puts in the entry.
“That system won’t change. We’re conscious by potentially having more involved that we may have to change that going forward. But for now, the same criteria and prioritization that we’ve used in the past applies.”
While interest in the class appears to have reached an all-time high, thanks to the upcoming arrival of GT3 machinery, Atherton wouldn’t be drawn to entry projections just yet.
“There’s a lot of very healthy conversation and a lot of positive signals but you can’t count them until they’re in,” he said.
“It’s some uncharted water here and I hope within the next 30 to 60 days at the most we’re able to communicate to everybody on what we’re expecting to come out of the box with in January.”