2017 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
22 WINTER 2016/17
hat IMSA has provided participating
manufacturers as it relates to the 2017
Daytona Prototype international
regulations is a terrific moment in sports
car racing history,” says an emphatic
Mazda Racing boss, John Doonan.
It’s hard to disagree.
Three years of awkward co-existence
between Grand-Am’s retro-tech Daytona
Prototypes and modern ACO/FIA-based
LMP2s concluded in October at Road
Atlanta. The mashup of disparate
concepts was unloved on its best days,
and with its European counterparts
planning a revised P2 formula for 2017,
IMSA took advantage of the opportunity
to close one era and replace it with a
wildly imaginative solution.
“DPi cars are an FIA LMP2 prototype
with manufacturer-branded bodies and
engines in place of the standard P2
bodywork and Gibson V8 engine they use in
the World Endurance Championship,” says
the guiding hand of DPi, IMSA’s Mark Raffauf.
For Mazda, Cadillac and Nissan – the
three DPi manufacturers getting ready to
usher in the new formula at Daytona –
IMSA’s twist on the WEC’s rather more
staid approach to P2 has all the markings
of a runaway success.
Where the WEC has limited its entrants
to using one of four spec chassis
(produced by Dallara, Onroak under the
Ligier banner, ORECA and Riley/
Multimatic) with a spec engine, IMSA
opened the door to manufacturer
involvement through a wide-ranging
customization of those four models.
General Motors, through its Cadillac
luxury line, partnered with Italian racecar
constructor Dallara to produce the DPi-V.R.
Road car-themed styling cues talk Cadillac’s
language through slicing, angular
bodywork, V-Series-stamped wheels and
the guttural howl of a 6.2-liter Caddy V8,
making GM’s first DPi a sensorial feast.
Mazda’s curvaceous, Riley-based
RT24-P DPi, propelled by a furious 2-liter,
four-cylinder turbo, and Nissan’s Ligier
JS P217, armed with its 3.8-liter
twin-turbo GT-R V6 and cloaked in panels
befitting its most famous supercar, have
stolen the march from the WEC.
With time and experience, DPis are
expected to eclipse every Prototype lap
record by multiple seconds. Speeds at
Daytona, recently held in the 195mph
range, shot north of 200mph with ease in
initial testing. Teams smiled. Drivers smiled.
Fans marveled at DPi’s striking appeal. True
identity has returned to North American
prototype racing in a formula that takes a
page from IMSA’s celebrated past.
IMSA’s DPi concept heralds a new era for the Prototype class, with faster, more identifiable racecars.
Prototype teams don’t have to field a DPi
car to be in the mix. Visit Florida Racing
has gone down the spec P2 route, with a
Gibson-powered Riley/Multimatic entry.
“What IMSA has provided
is a terrific moment in
sports car racing history”