PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team principal Bobby Oergel believes the changes made to the LMP2 class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for 2020 will offer an “amazing bang for the buck” for customers looking to enter the cost-capped prototype ranks.
Announced last weekend during IMSA’s ‘State of the Series’ address, the class will see a reduction to six rounds with the elimination of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race and making the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona not count towards full-season points.
The concept, proposed by Oergel to IMSA that makes Daytona optional for teams that could enable one-off driver lineups for the Florida endurance classic, will result in a significant reduction in season-long budgets according to the longtime IMSA entrant.
Oergel explained that he could now sell a lineup for Daytona-only, alongside a championship-seeking pairing for the six other rounds, which still includes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans.
“To me it makes it viable financially and very competitive and way more competitive than anything across the water has to offer,” he told Sportscar365.
“We’ll do a massive amount of mileage for very much the same money [as a season of ELMS].
“Point blank it will be an amazing bang for the buck compared to what I think you’d get anywhere else in the world with that kind of schedule and things to go with it.”
Fellow LMP2 entrant Brent O’Neill of Performance Tech Motorsports, however, believes the changes have come too late to save class, which has seen only two full-season entries this year.
“I think it’s some steps in the right direction but my gut feeling is that it might be a little too late,” O’Neill told Sportscar365.
“It kills some of the thunder for the guys that love to do Daytona for the points. For Bobby it was all about a budget, but if the guys are in, the guys are in.”
O’Neill said the performance reductions made to the category this year, in order to provide a gap to the top-class DPi entries, has come as a detriment to customers.
“I’m not 100 percent sure you can sell the program because of the BoP,” he said. “The guys don’t want to come here and run a five-speed car. We have a six-speed; they don’t want to be limited to 8250 [RPM].
“What is IMSA going to do if it’s a two or three-horse race next year? For me, that’s not a very good business model.
“My feeling this year is the same feeling I got when it was the last year of PC.”
Atherton Hoping for Five-Car LMP2 Grid
IMSA President Scott Atherton said he’d personally like to see five LMP2 entries next year, revealing that there’s interest from multiple teams and parties to potentially make that number a reality.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “We don’t have a defined number [of target entries].
“My personal answer would be that we need five LMP2 cars on the grid week-in, week-out.
“The intention of the changes we had [at the ‘State of the Series’] is to do just that. They’re completely in response to stakeholder feedback.
“I think there are a lot of people that are crunching numbers right now, trying to figure out how to make it work.”