The state of the LMP2 class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is in a “better situation” than one year ago despite a recent drop in entries according to ORECA, which believes the reduced grid is only temporary.
The class, which features a record-low single-car entry for this weekend’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will return to its normal season-long car count in next month’s season finale at Sebring according to ORECA customer racing service manager Anthony Megevand, who is confident in the potential for more teams to be on the grid next year.
“For Laguna, I think everyone can understand this,” Megevand told Sportscar365.
“It was kind of expected following the last announcements over the last few weeks and months. I think we have to take into consideration when you have a COVID situation it’s not easy for anybody.
“It’s not reflecting what LMP2 in America is right now. We will see it more at Sebring with four cars, including [the] newcomer Inter Europol team.”
The French constructor, which supplies the majority of LMP2 customers worldwide with its Oreca 07 Gibson, is projecting between 4-7 cars for the full season next year, along with additional entries for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
This is despite the arrival of the LMP3 class into the WeatherTech Championship, which Megevand admitted has had an effect on potential further growth in LMP2.
“We already had one team that was thinking about coming to P2 and will go to LMP3,” he said.
“But on the other hand, we’ve had some teams that clearly said even if LMP3 is allowed in WeatherTech, if they come, it will be with a P2.
“I think there are several reasons for this.
“It’s the pure performance of the car because there is clearly a step [above LMP3] on this. There is also the feeling from some Bronze drivers that it’s easier in LMP2 in that you don’t have many surprises and they enjoy it more.
“In the past we’ve seen some Bronze drivers or even Silvers that were better in P2 than in P3.
“In IMSA you have the Trueman Award where you can get the Le Mans entry. I think the best way to prepare for Le Mans is in LMP2.
“This I think some teams have Le Mans clearly in mind and it also makes more sense if you have LMDh in mind too.”
With PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports expected to be back in 2021 along with Era Motorsport, which was forced to pull the plug on its planned season-long effort due to a back injury from Dwight Merriman, Megevand said additional teams are working to join the class.
It includes a high-profile European LMP2 outfit, along with another current FIA World Endurance Championship entrant that is planning to contest January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Megevand said other teams, currently involved in the GT Daytona class, could be looking to make the step up to prototypes next year as well.
“I will not say I’m confident — because in this kind of situation it’s never easy to be confident — but for sure there is huge interest in the LMP2 class,” he said.
“It’s maybe strange to say that but we are in a better situation than one year ago.
“Now we know Bronze [drivers] are mandatory. We know Bronze drivers really enjoy it by doing quali and the start of the race.
“In the U.S. you can see some European teams coming. It’s good because IMSA is not only interesting for American teams but not only because of the Bronze driver situation.
“Also a lot of driver and teams want to have new challenges.”