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Snow: Encore Drive a “No-Brainer” After Ratings Shift

2018 GTD champion Madison Snow basing his IMSA future on updated driver ratings…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Madison Snow says it was a “no-brainer” for him to return to the IMSA paddock for this weekend’s Michelin Encore at Sebring after his Gold driver rating was dropped for the event.

The 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar GT Daytona champion was left without a full-time drive for 2019 when his Silver FIA driver rating was raised to Gold for IMSA competition.

But temporary dispensation for the Encore has enabled Snow to return this weekend, to drive the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Bryan Sellers.

The 23-year-old told Sportscar365 that his ties to the PMR organization continued throughout his bye year and made this weekend’s comeback appearance a possibility.

“We were always in touch and we knew that the Encore was coming up,” said Snow.

“The team told me that I could actually run in this race because of my rating, so there was a possibility that I could team up with Bryan.

“Once we figured all this out, it was a bit of a no-brainer to put me in the car for the weekend.”

Snow admitted that it felt “strange” to be out of the cockpit for such a long period of time after winning the 2018 title, but felt comfortable when he returned to the wheel.

He turned laps in a GT3 Lamborghini at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta earlier this year and also sampled a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo during the IMSA weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in September.

“I had enough stuff going on that it was easy to find something else to do,” explained Snow.

“I had a relaxing year at home working for my dad. I worked there full-time and worked on my Jeep, doing some off-road updates to that.

“It was just strange to think about the racing aspect of being out of the car for so long.

“That first time getting back in the car, I was joking to the [Paul Miller] crew, saying ‘oh man, I’m going to be super slow’. I definitely wasn’t as good as I was, but I was decent enough to lay down a couple of laps and get some good seat time in the car.

“But that’s the only driving I’ve done. Now I’m used to it, but when I initially said this year that I wasn’t driving, it was definitely strange for a couple of months because that was the longest I had ever been out of a car since I started karting back when I was five or six.

“Doing it again this weekend, honestly, it’s the cheapest track time a team can get at Sebring.

“That’s why we’re here, for me and the team, just to set the car up and get more data. For me, it’s good just to hang out with the team and get back in the car for the weekend.”

Snow Saving Thoughts About GTD Return

Regarding his future in IMSA’s GTD class, Snow explained that he’s reserving any commitment on a 2020 program until the final IMSA driver rankings are published.

Despite being registered as a Silver for the Encore, Snow could still be included as a Gold-rated pilot in the final categorization.

This would put him in the same category as some top-line professional drivers, many of whom are Platinum rated, and is what prevented him from racing this year.

“It is something that, in one aspect, we should be looking at and considering,” he said, “But in another aspect, it’s not something that you want to look at if there’s a chance that it’s not a possibility, and then I lose my hopes that I will be in the car driving.

“This time they could tell me that I’m sitting out another year. The best thing for me to do is to just wait and see whether I can or I can’t, and then start considering it.”

But Snow is also hopeful of IMSA re-adjusting his driver rating for next year to compete as a Silver driver. 

“It’s good that I could be Silver,” he said. “I’m waiting for the final announcement to go out, to know what’s actually going to happen.

“I haven’t heard or seen anything official on that, but it sounds like they might reconsider it. That would give me an opportunity to be in a car next year.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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