IMSA President Scott Atherton has laid out ambitions of launching a single-make electric race series, which could join the sanctioning body’s portfolio of North American-based sports car racing championships in the years to come.
The organizer of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which features manufacturer involvement from more than a dozen automakers and a global link to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is in the frame to expand its involvement to the emerging EV industry.
Atherton said the most logical entry point would be a partnership with a manufacturer that’s wanting to race its production-based car.
A number of IMSA manufacturer partners, including Porsche, Audi and Mercedes, are set to launch its first all-electric vehicles in 2019, alongside expanding EV lineups from Nissan, BMW, Chevrolet and Ford in the years to come.
“IMSA has an interest across our platforms of adding an electric single-make category to our composite of platforms, of championships, of series,” Atherton told e-racing365.
“We’ve had individuals approach us about launching electric GT championships where IMSA would be the sanctioning body and it would be almost organic growth. That’s not our business model.
“If you look at our single-make categories: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo, something along those lines but with electrified powertrains…
“It’s interesting what Jaguar is doing with Formula E. The welcome mat is out within IMSA to pursue something similar.”
While currently having seven series under its sanction, plus the North American rights for a standalone TCR championship and previous discussions with ITR for a potential U.S.-based DTM series, Atherton admits they have plenty on their plate at the moment but sees the long-term prospects of EV technology.
“I think it’s not a question of if, it’s when,” he said. “But it is something that, with all that we have on our plate right now, it’s not been a primary focus.
“We’re not out there aggressively pursuing it. But if there was an OE that wanted to approach us with that as their initiative, we would be open arms, open ears.”
PWC Also Monitoring EV Developments
WC Vision, producers of Pirelli World Challenge, is also keeping a close eye on developments in the electric racing scene, according to President and CEO Greg Gill.
Gill admitted he’s taken a keen interest in the recent launch of the E TCR platform, which will feature a spec powertrain and battery but with manufacturer-built chassis.
PWC and North American rights-holder IMSA have both launched TCR classes this year in their respective championships.
“The TCR information was great news and now we’ll see how [they] adopt it,” Gill told e-racing365. “We as a series are looking at [E TCR] very closely.
“I think TCR is really interesting because it’s so new, it gives you an opportunity. That’s probably easier than saying, hypothetically, an electric GT3 car.
“TCR in general is also targeting a younger demographic. I think you would find the [EV] adoption being easier too. If you had to hypothesize, I think that would be a good first step.”