IMSA has a historical past of throwing issues on the wall to see what sticks in a post-economic-depression economic system. Following an enormous fall off of entries after the 2008 racing season, which noticed the loss of life of GT1 and the eventual collapse of LMP1 in America, the IMSA-run American Le Mans Sequence added a Porsche GT3 Cup spec class referred to as GT Problem and a really low cost to function Oreca-based GM LS-powered Prototype Problem class. Not solely did these lessons add to the confusion of the informal observer, however made the racing product itself worse general.
The factor I most bear in mind concerning the GTC and LMPC years is the inflow of inexperienced gentleman drivers, and the seemingly large improve in boneheaded accidents. Contact turned the rule moderately than the exception, costing groups some huge cash in shredded carbon fiber and crunched chassis. This got here to a head within the 2014 Sebring 12 Hour race, which saw at least half of the LMPC class in the scrap heap by the tip of the occasion, together with a number of different automobiles they took with them on their method out.
For the 2021 season, IMSA is including a sub-LMP2 class to its predominant occasions, fittingly referred to as LMP3. The category has existed as an IMSA class for the previous few years, working as a stand-alone assist sequence on race weekends, additionally referred to as Prototype Problem. That sequence has been moderately profitable with the sorts of rich dudes who’ve graduated past Lamborghini Tremendous Trofeo or Ferrari Problem, or the sorts of younger drivers who’ve shady monetary backing from the Russian state and one thing to show.
Clearly I’m not the goal marketplace for this class, and I don’t know the internal workings of IMSA’s funds, so all of that is largely an informed guess as to what’s going to occur within the coming years as LMP3 is added to IMSA’s WeatherTech Sports activities Automotive Championship.
For one factor, I see a lot of the success of LMP3 as being in its dash race format. With most races taking 1 hour and 45 minutes, with the longest being three hours, these races are comparatively straightforward to finance for a reasonably rich racer. That’s a number of units of tires and a pair tanks of fuel, minimal crew and one co-driver to share race day duties with. It’s additionally a six-race season, which suggests much less journey, much less prep, fewer rebuilds, and comparatively few race miles. Stepping as much as IMSA’s prime flight races means Daytona 24, Sebring 12, Petit Le Mans, and different endurance occasions, mixed with a 12-event season, working LMP3 simply obtained much more costly.
For an additional factor, I can see this class each including to the WeatherTech sequence’ complexity and injury invoice similar to LMPC did the final time this very factor occurred. To its credit score, LMP3 is rather more advanced than shoving a Chebby V8 into an already previous carbon monocoque. Constructed by 5 totally different chassis producers—Duqueine, Ave-Riley, Ginetta, Ligier, and ADESS—utilizing a spec detuned model of the Nissan-branded 5-liter V8 discovered within the FIA’s LMP2 class, the LMP3 lessons have a classy traction management and extra superior aero than the open cockpit LMPCs ever had. That ought to make them simpler to drive for novice wealthy dudes.
IMSA has seen curiosity within the class from Andretti Autosport, United Autosport, Riley Applied sciences, Efficiency Tech, and others.
If it have been me, as a substitute of including extra bizarre shit to the sequence, I’d concentrate on the lessons which might be delivering glorious racing and large producer and privateer curiosity alike, DPi (quickly to be LMDh) and GT Daytona. Scrap the ailing GTLM, and permit current LMP2 groups to compete on degree floor with the LMDh automobiles and also you’ll have enormous grids and a a lot much less advanced racing format. Two lessons. Maintain it easy, silly.