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Record 19 Manufacturers Set for IMSA Participation

Alfa Romeo, Hyundai, Honda added to ever-expanding IMSA manufacturer lineup…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

IMSA has confirmed that a total of 19 manufacturers are eligible for competition in its series this year, marking a new record in participation and activation within the sports car racing sanctioning body.

It comes as IMSA kicks off its 50th anniversary celebrations beginning with this weekend’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, which will see 13 manufacturers competing.

Six additional automakers not currently present in the WeatherTech Championship, including newcomers Alfa Romeo, Honda and Hyundai, meanwhile, will be on the grid in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge on Friday.

 “As our 50th Anniversary season begins, having a record number of manufacturers in our championships speaks volumes to the global relevance IMSA has confirmed as we look forward to the start of 2019 and beyond,” IMSA CEO Ed Bennett said.

“Our strategy of providing dynamic, cost-effective platforms to showcase a wide variety of manufacturer technical specifications is rewarding for all involved, but race fans are the main beneficiary. It’s a fantastic time to be an IMSA fan.”

The participating manufacturers and their programs are as follows (in alphabetical order):

Acura – Fields two ARX-05 DPis with Acura Team Penske and also is represented by two Acura NSX GT3 entries in the GT Daytona class from Meyer Shank Racing.

Alfa Romeo – Joins Pilot Challenge TCR class. Two Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR cars are entered at Daytona.

Aston Martin – Participates in the Pilot Challenge GS class. There are three Aston Martin Vantage GT4 cars on the entry list for Friday’s race.

Audi – Competes in both the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge with entries in three different classes. Four Audi R8 LMS Evos entered in the GTD class for Rolex 24, with three Audi R8 LMS GT4 cars in the GS class and five Audi RS 3 LMS TCR entries. Audi was the 2018 Pilot Challenge TCR manufacturer champion.

BMW – A longtime IMSA competitor with entries in both the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge. Two BMW M8 GTEs in GT Le Mans, one BMW M6 GT3 in GTD and five BMW M4 GT4 entries in Pilot Challenge GS class.

Cadillac – The premium brand from General Motors has the most entries of any DPi-class manufacturer, with six Cadillac DPi-V.R entries set to compete in the Rolex 24 and throughout the season. Cadillac has won the last two WeatherTech Championship Prototype manufacturer championships.

Chevrolet – Race cars in both the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge. Its pair of Corvette C7.R race cars fielded by Corvette Racing have yielded the past three consecutive GTLM driver and team titles. Chevrolet is represented in Pilot Challenge by one Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in the GS class.

Ferrari – A staple of sports car racing, the premium Italian brand is represented in two different WeatherTech Championship classes at the Rolex 24. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE is the lone car with the prancing horse in GTLM at Daytona, but there are three 488 GT3 entries in GTD. IMSA also sanctions the single-make Ferrari Challenge series in the United States.

Ford – The “Blue Oval” is also represented in both the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge. Its pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs return to the GTLM class in 2019, while there are six Ford Mustang GT4s on the GS class entry list for Pilot Challenge. The manufacturer won both the GTLM and GS manufacturer championships last year.

Honda – Returns to Pilot Challenge in 2019. There are five Honda Civic TCRs on the entry list this weekend.

Hyundai – A newcomer to IMSA competition in 2019, Hyundai enters the Pilot Challenge TCR class. Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian will field two brand-new Hyundai Veloster N TCR machines, which were unveiled last week at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show.

Lamborghini – The Italian manufacturer picked up its first WeatherTech Championship GTD manufacturer championship in 2018. This year, there are five Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo entries for the Rolex 24 in the GTD class. IMSA also sanctions the single-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series.

Lexus – The WeatherTech Championship GTD class has included a pair of Lexus RC F GT3s since 2017. This year, the pair of GTD entries will be fielded by AIM Vasser Sullivan.

Mazda – Recognized for its rich motorsport heritage, Mazda’s 2019 IMSA representation comes via the pair of Mazda RT24-P DPis fielded by Mazda Team Joest.

McLaren – The British manufacturer will continue its Pilot Challenge program in 2019, with a pair of McLaren 570S GT4 entries in the GS class at Daytona.

Mercedes-AMG – Since joining IMSA for the first time in 2017, the premium German brand has steadily grown its presence with customer programs in both the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge. There will be two Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the GTD class at the Rolex 24, with seven Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries in the GS class.

Nissan – The manufacturer of one of IMSA’s most prolific GTP race cars in the 1980s and early ‘90s will be represented in the IMSA 50th Anniversary season by the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan Onroak DPi entry.

Porsche – The winningest manufacturer in IMSA will be well represented once again in 2019. There are two Porsche 911 RSRs in the WeatherTech Championship GTLM class, with three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs slated to compete in GTD. The Pilot Challenge entry list contains eight Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports in the GS class. IMSA also continues to sanction both the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama single-make series.

Volkswagen – The German manufacturer continues its IMSA relationship with race cars eligible to compete in the Pilot Challenge TCR class.

During the 2018 season, 11 of the 13 manufacturers who competed in the WeatherTech Championship won at least one race, and every manufacturer had at least one podium.

There were 20 different teams and 53 different drivers that earned victories, with dozens more celebrating on the podium. In the Michelin Pilot Challenge, six of 10 manufacturers won races during the year and three others reached the podium at least once. 

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