Only a fool would try to encapsulate an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that featured 12 race weekends from January through November boasting five distinct classes and a baker’s dozen worth of manufacturer, team and driver championships in less than 10,000 words. But if the dunce cap fits …
IMSA, Another Term for Diversity
In an era of cookie-cutter cars and when one or two manufacturers rule the proverbial roost in many racing series, IMSA can rightly be proud of the fact that no less than 10 manufacturers graced winner’s circles from the Rolex 24 At Daytona to the Motul Petit Le Mans. Specifically, that would be Acura, Aston Martin, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche … and last, but certainly not least, Mazda, which put the capper on its five-year run in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class with an emotional win at Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
There are any number of reasons IMSA is so competitive, not least of which is a technical group headed by IMSA Technical Director Matt Kurdock that does a helluva job hitting the nail on the head of the dreaded Balance of Performance regulations such that 3.5-liter, V-6 turbos, 6.2-liter, normally aspirated V-8s and 2-liter, inline-four turbos could – and did – win in DPi. And everything from 4-liter, V-8 turbos and 5.2-liter, normally aspirated V-10s to normally aspirated, 4-liter flat-sixes and 3-liter, inline six-cylinder engines could and did win in GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
Add to that the sheer diversity of racetracks – from the Daytona International Speedway’s unique road course/oval configuration, the equally singular (not to say brutal) racing surfaces of Sebring International Raceway to the streets of Detroit’s Belle Isle and Long Beach and the challenges presented by traditional natural terrain road courses like Lime Rock Park, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America, VIRginia International Raceway, Watkins Glen International and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – and it’s no wonder any given Saturday or Sunday can produce a different winner. What’s more, we can all look forward to the return of the special challenges presented by Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to the schedule in 2022.
Aided and abetted by a new points system that awarded points for qualifying, the WeatherTech Championship saw titles in all five classes come down to the wire. While the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) and GTLM titles were decided once the green flag flew at Motul Petit Le Mans, the DPi, GTD and Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) hardware was up for grabs with the DPi laurels literally decided on the final turn of the final lap of the final race of the season.