2017 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
20 WINTER 2016/17
peeding towards its 50th anniversary,
IMSA has authored a season of
reinvention and growth for the
Weather Tech SportsCar Championship.
The palpable sense of anticipation and
excitement as the multi-class endurance
racing series prepares to roar into action
with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 28-29,
is what American sports car fans dreamed
of when Grand-Am and the American
Le Mans Series merged in 2014.
Top story is the new Daytona Prototype
international class. Taking a page from the
classic IMSA playbook, DPi recalls the days
when manufacturers infused road car
styling into alluring prototype shapes.
DPi cars from Cadillac and Mazda
made their first public outing during the
mid-December test at Daytona
International Speedway and ticked the
boxes for looks, noise and peformance.
Stretched, curved and more extreme
than the outgoing Daytona Prototypes and
2015-spec P2s, DPi has the potential to
energize the Weather Tech Championship
in ways the DP/P2 “marriage of
convenience” it supersedes couldn’t.
Gorgeous shapes, compelling sounds,
serious speeds and genuine engagement
by the auto industry made IMSA’s
heavenly GTP class and ALMS’s LMP1 and
P2 categories all-time favorites for North
American fans. That proven recipe, filtered
through today’s prototype sensibilities, is
the blueprint we’ve been waiting for – and
the early exit polls say sports car fans are
liking what they’re seeing in DPi.
was the de facto headline class in the eyes
of many fans the last couple of seasons.
GTLM, IMSA’s bedrock offering for
hard-fought competition, is the only class
to carry over with everything completely
intact from last season. And that’s
everything a GT racing fan could ask for:
The prizefight between Corvette and Ford
gets a re-match, German icons BMW and
Porsche continue to jockey for GTLM
supremacy, too, and Ferrari – the pride of
Italy – is ready to spoil everyone’s plans.
If GTLM continues to serve up the
same thrills, DPi will need to bring it’s
A game when it comes to winning the
hearts of diehard sports car enthusiasts.
For us, the fans, that’s a win-win.
GT Daytona, the less-rarefied sibling
of GTLM, has an influx of new factory-
supported entries from Acura, Lexus, and
DPi as the new headline act, plus GTLM and GTD fields for the ages. Let’s light it up, IMSA!
“If GTLM continues to serve
up the thrills, DPi will need
to bring its A game. For us,
the fans, it’s a win-win”
The newness of the DPi cars is also an
intriguing subplot to follow; reliability will
be elusive in the opening races. Picking a
champion at this stage is pure guesswork.
Perhaps that’s where the “spec” FIA
WEC-eligible LMP2s powered by Gibson
V8s have the upper hand? Sharing the
Prototype class with the DPis, IMSA
promises they’ll be just as competitive.
Throw in the reliability that comes from
added maturity and maybe it’s a P2 crew
holding the trophy come season’s end?
The selective appeal of the old DP/P2
Prototype category meant IMSA’s GT
Le Mans class – a dedicated sanctuary for
factories to flex their supercar muscles –
WORDS Marshall Pruett MAIN IMAGE Michael Levitt/LAT