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New Restart Procedure Among Changes to Sporting Regs for 2018

All Prototype cars will restart ahead of GT Le Mans and GT Daytona class entries, as one of several changes made to the sporting regulations…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

All Prototype cars will restart ahead of GT Le Mans and GT Daytona class entries, as one of several changes made to the sporting regulations for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.

IMSA has created the ‘Prototype Class Split’ for 2018, which will see GTLM and GTD cars pull to the left side following the final wave-by to let the entire P class field restart ahead of the production-based classes after each full-course caution.

The procedure, which had been utilized in Grand-Am, comes after multiple incidents or near-misses in recent years as a result of a class leader, oftentimes in a slower category, taking the field back to green and causing a bottle neck-like effect.

The final restart in last month’s Motul Petit Le Mans saw the GTD class-leading Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS lead the field to the green and ultimately trigger contact between the two Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs behind it.

A number of other similar situations were also seen throughout the season.

In another change for 2018, GTLM cars will be allowed to pit alongside Prototype entries on the first lap of the pit lane being declared open while under caution.

Previously, Prototype cars had pitted, followed by GTLM and GTD cars together the following lap.

Changes in Qualifying Rules

IMSA, meanwhile, will prohibit any form of modifications or touching of the cars while during qualifying, once the car leaves its pit box for its run.

Drivers must remain in their cars until they arrive in impound post-qualifying, unless in the case of each pole-sitter, who may be directed by an official to exit the car for interviews and to participate in the Motul Pole Award photo.

Additionally, teams will no longer be required to start on their qualifying tires, and any GTLM car sent to the rear of the field will now line up at the back of its class, and not behind the entire GT grid.

One Manufacturer Change Per Season

Teams will now only be allowed to change manufacturer or constructor once per season, subject to force majeure and at the sole discretion of IMSA.

The rule comes following WeatherTech Racing’s mid-season switch from a Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a Porsche 911 GT3 R this year, and having considered moving back to the Mercedes over the remainder of the season.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. guest

    November 21, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    YES. Glad to see WeatherTech’s fleet mostly shut down. That was ridiculous.

  2. TailsLeMans722

    November 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Soooo… Basically, the cautions are going to last even longer than they already are thanks to the “prototype class split” rule.

    Can somebody please explain to me why they don’t use FCY’s in IMSA?

    • Confused Guy

      November 21, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      They do use FCY, do you mean virtual safety cars?

      • TailsLeMans722

        November 21, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        I mean WEC FCY where the field slows down to 80KPH on the whole racetrack while the marshals deal with an incident, similar to a VSC but based on a speed limit rather than time deltas as in F1.

        Slow Zones are similar, but they only affect a portion of the racetrack while the rest of it stays green. This is mostly used at le mans, but other tracks can use it as well.

        • Kurt

          November 22, 2017 at 7:45 am

          The cautions will be shorter, GTLM and P car will pit on the same lap under yellow. The Prototype Pass-By does not take an extra lap to complete. It’s basically back to Grand-Am Rules (but they’ve written out the ability for GT cars to do the old double wave-by trick). This is a FANTASTIC change. The idea of a GTD leading the field to green was never a good idea. This is the way it had been at Daytona for many many years before the rules merger.

  3. Steven

    November 21, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Just when IMSA thinks they take 1 step forward, they take 4 back.

  4. Jason

    November 21, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    More of keeping the field artifically close. Just cruise for 23 hours at Daytona. No need to use the car u needlessly. How about you slow the field and just have the cars held position like wec and creventic and sro. The integrity of the endurance race must be protected. But I guess imsa wants their version of a dash to the finish.

    I miss the days when the daytona 24 winner won by 10l laps. At least what happened throughout the whole event mattered.

    • Josh

      November 22, 2017 at 4:40 am

      I agree ,I am really tired of safety cars bunching up the cars and the leader loosing the advantage he had. I have been following motorsport for more than 50 years and long for the days when you had very little interference from the organizers and officials and the best car won on performance and talent of the drivers.

  5. John Favata

    November 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Things looked so up this year and now this artificial B.S. No reason to push whatsoever in a stint as a yellow comes out and let alone any distance one prototype has put between itself an another car now any lapped cars one puts between them and the next car is gone. SMH

  6. Luna

    November 21, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    After 23 hours and 40 minutes there will be a caution. And then the final sprint. Did you say IMSA or NASCAR? They both use the same manual, How to manipulate a race.

  7. Jenner

    November 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    So let say Montoya over cooks it going into turn 1 on lap 1 @LB and drives off into the escape road. After he gets the car settled and back on track, the whole entire field passes him. Now he’s gotta regroup and work his way back up through the field.

    With the new rule, if he did that and a FCC came up in the next lap or two, Montoya would basically get a free ride through the field and be at the back of the P class.

    Oh yeah, that’s fair. And with Penske in the mix, I can see him exploiting this rule big time.

    • A.A.

      November 21, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      You seem to have a pretty specific grudge, LOL. Was JPM or Tim Cindric rude to you one time?

      • Jenner

        November 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        Not at all, just picked them off the top of my head, could be Konica Team, Joest, Penske. I just think it’s not fair that a driver can F up and lose time, only to get it back for free.

        Why can’t they go with VSC like WEC? Leaders should not get penalized for earning the gap they raced hard for. This “Lucky Dog” NASCAR crap is bullshit.

    • Kurt

      November 22, 2017 at 7:56 am

      This scenario wouldn’t be much different than previous, especially at a track like Daytona where getting laps back is much easier. In the old scenario, when the P field pits under the next yellow, you pit with them, if it’s close to a full stop then you’ll all end up together towards the back of the field anyways. Maybe with old rules you would short fill and with new full fill…maybe.

  8. Mark

    November 22, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Careful IMSA or Cooper or his dad will take their ball and go home back to club racing where thy outspend everyone and still can’t win LOL.

  9. Jason

    November 22, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Not one single positive comment about this. Well deserved 8msa. You dropped the ball on this one big time your safety car procedures are a total farce and ruins the integrity of the competition.

    • Andy Flinn

      November 23, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Jason, it’s a good thing fans don’t run IMSA.

      Is that positive enough for you?

      I started watching IMSA racing with the switch from from Porsche 934s, Greenwood Corvettes, the Hobbs McLaren BMW 320i, and DeKon Monzas to the all-conquering two-turbo Porsche 935s in 1978. Brumos won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1978 by 30 laps! The top ten finishers, except for one GT Ferrari Daytona, were ALL Porsches. The following year in 1979, the Interscope Porsche won the 24 Hours of Daytona by almost 50 laps! Second place was a GT class Ferrari Daytona.

      Exciting? No, it was a bore. Hence the inspiration for a switch to GTP only two years later.

      Sebring 1982, when the Daytona-winning JLP Porsche finished first ahead of Bobby Rahal’s Chevy-powered March 82G GTP on the SAME lap was a MUCH better race.

  10. Chips O'Toole

    November 22, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Awesome! Hopefully in 2019 we can spend an additional 5 laps under each yellow rearranging the GTLM/GTD fields as well. It’ll give FOX Sports the opportunity to run even more commercials. /sarc

    • Gene in Florida

      November 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

      This exactly.
      And somehow FOX will still miss the re-start because they had to show one more commercial. Irritates me to no end when there is 5 minutes left and the race and they have to go to commercial. They just can’t give us the last 15min uninterrupted.

  11. juneracer

    November 22, 2017 at 8:14 am

    the FCY wave bye rules for P cars should reduce GT cars getting taken out by P cars running through the field, a positive thing. there has and still will be enough FCYs for all cars in each class to be on the lead lap at the end, unless they have garage repair issues that put them multiple laps down. the NASCAR/IMSA mentality is racing is a ‘show’. its meant to be entertainment not a technical prowess display. they (IMSA) believe 10 cars in a fight for the win on the last lap of a 24 hour race is exciting, thats the product, thats the ‘show’. its BoP racing in every aspect. if you have a slow Am driver, not to worry, you’ll get the laps back if you work the FCY properly. if you don’t have to repair the car you’ll likely have a chance to fight for the win in class. for years and years pace at Daytona is only the last 2-3 hours. just get used to it…

    • Andy Flinn

      November 23, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Juneracer, with all the pre-testing IMSA is no longer actual endurance racing. It hasn’t been that way for quite some time. I guess you haven’t been paying attention.

      The Rolex 24 is now more like a series of one hour sprint races separated by pit stops. Ask any driver.

      And no team – especially Penske and Joest – want to spend millions of sponsor dollars to tool around hopelessly mired in the back of the pack for 23 hours with no chance of making up time because they had a small issue or made a slight error in hour one.

      This is modern “endurance” sports car racing. So unless you’d rather watch ChumpCar or the 24 Hours of Lemons, you better get used to it.

  12. RacefanCT

    November 22, 2017 at 10:35 am

    This is nothing more than artificial race manipulation. Part of multi-class racing is contending with traffic, restarts included. I appreciate the field of cars and teams that IMSA has amassed but mickey mouse rules like this ruins it completely for me.

  13. John Favata

    November 24, 2017 at 1:25 am

    To add to this. What happens in the odd occurrence though it can happen if there is a possibility of a GT Le Mans or a GT Daytona somehow with an opportunity to win the race overall aka most recently Petit 2015. Watch this video in 2003 with The Racers Group leading Daytona. Go to 1:22:24 in video. Typical Nascar BS

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