January 4, 2024

By John Oreovicz

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – You can always count on two things whenever a new year rolls around: Resolutions and predictions for the upcoming 365 days. Or in the case of this year, 366 days.

So, without further ado, here are 10 top storylines to watch for in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2024:

1. Year 2 of GTP 2.0

By every measure, the introduction of the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class in 2023 featuring hybrid-powered entries from Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche was a smash hit. The WeatherTech Championship enjoyed record attendance and a significantly bigger viewing and streaming audience, numbers driven by excitement surrounding the exotic new race cars. This year, we’ll see even more full-season entries – 10 to be exact – and the introduction of the new Lamborghini SC63. All the ingredients are in place for even more excitement this year.

2. Robust GTD PRO Field Doubles Up on ’23

Over the past three years, international sports car racing has undergone a consolidation and reorganization of the Grand Touring (GT) classes that made cars built to FIA GT3 specifications the worldwide standard. That produced comparatively small fields in IMSA’s GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class as competing teams forged affiliations with manufacturers and drivers with the appropriate FIA ratings that differentiate GT Daytona (GTD) and GTD PRO in the WeatherTech Championship. For 2024, the full-time GTD PRO field is projected to nearly double from five to nine cars – with a dozen at some events. The GTD field is also expected to grow, with as many as 17 full-time entries and 25 or so for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

3. Lamborghini Joins GTP for Endurance Cup at Sebring

Lamborghini and Alpine are the two latest manufacturers to build prototypes using the LMDh-specification common hybrid technology. The Lamborghini SC63 looked impressive at the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway last month, and the car will make its IMSA debut in March at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Alpine has announced plans to contest the WEC this year while evaluating a future IMSA program.

4. New or Improved GT Cars

Participating manufacturers are permitted to homologate updated “Evo” versions of their cars with the FIA on a regulated basis. Seven of the 11 GT marques in the 2024 WeatherTech Championship are campaigning designs that are all new or given an extensive Evo upgrade in the last year: Corvette and Mustang are brand new for ’24, while Porsche and Ferrari introduced completely new cars and McLaren produced an Evo version of its 720S in ’23. Looking ahead, Aston Martin has a new Evo version of the Vantage ready to be unveiled, while BMW is already testing an evolution of the M4 GT3 that is expected to debut in 2025. Ferrari will be represented full-time in IMSA in 2024, with a GTD entry fielded by Conquest Racing.

5. Both Acura GTP Entries under WTRAndretti Umbrella

Wayne Taylor Racing was already one of the most accomplished teams in sports car racing. Joining forces with Andretti Global in 2023 only increased the longtime IMSA entrant’s prestige factor. Acura has streamlined its sports car strategy for ’24, determining that both of its ARX-06 GTP entries will be prepared under one roof by an expanded WTRAndretti effort. The formidable driver pairing of Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque continues in the familiar No. 10 car, while the new No. 40 entry welcomes Jordan Taylor back into the family fold with rising sports car star Louis Deletraz.

6. Pfaff, McLaren Team Up

Toronto-based Pfaff Motorsports takes as much pride in its Canadian heritage as Bob and Doug McKenzie (look that one up if you don’t know). But there’s a new twist for 2024: after a long association with Porsche, the Pfaff’s familiar plaid motif will be displayed on the papaya orange of a McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in a factory-supported GTD PRO entry. To add additional maple syrup to the mix, Canadian hero James Hinchcliffe will join fulltime drivers Oliver Jarvis and Marvin Kirchhoefer at the Rolex 24, Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans, with Alexander Rossi completing a star-studded lineup at Daytona. Beauty! (Photo: Lenssen Photo)

7. Series Growth Extends to LMP2 Class

GT classes aren’t the only element of international sports car racing being reshuffled. Citing increased participation in its Hypercar (which includes LMDh hybrid prototypes identical to those in the IMSA GTP class) and GT classes, WEC has put the LMP2 prototype class on a temporary hiatus other than select invites to Le Mans. Meanwhile, IMSA has shifted Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) racing to the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge sprint series and the HSR Prototype Challenge presented by IMSA for endurance events. All that has led to a larger Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) field in the WeatherTech Championship, with 11 projected full-season entries (up from seven in 2023) and 13 on the Rolex 24 entry list.

8. New GTP Lineups and Liveries

Building on its positive introduction in 2023, the GTP class is poised for growth in ’24, with 10 full-time entries and a few notable changes. Returning champion Pipo Derani has a new full-season teammate in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R, Jack Aitken, with 2022 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) champion Tom Blomqvist joining them for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races. Porsche Penske Motorsport shifted Matt Campbell to its WEC effort and is bringing home American and 2019 DPi champion Dane Cameron to join Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche 963; Campbell will be part of the No. 7 car’s Rolex 24 lineup. Speaking of Porsche, Proton Competition will run a full-season campaign and will field its customer 963 as No. 5 in a striking new Mustang Sampling livery. JDC-Miller MotorSports has switched back to its traditional No. 85, with veteran Richard Westbrook joining young Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm for the full season, with versatile veteran Ben Keating joining them at Daytona. And while we’ll have to wait until Sebring to see it in race conditions, the new Lamborghini has wowed many with its sharp look and vibrant color scheme.

9. Manufacturers, Sponsors Continue Realizing Value, Stability in IMSA

It’s often said that the strength of any racing series can be measured in manufacturer participation. That speaks volumes for IMSA, which counts no fewer than 18 automotive brands that compete on the racetrack and utilize the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, VP Racing Challenge and IMSA’s single-make series as both a marketing vehicle and a platform for developing people and products. That also rings true for IMSA’s key partners WeatherTech, Michelin and VP Racing Fuels, all of which recently signed extensions through at least 2028.

10. Indianapolis Added to Expanded Michelin Endurance Cup

Endurance races are the raison d’être of sports car competition, and starting in 2024, one of the most famous and historic tracks in the world joins an expanded five-round IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. After a successful return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for a 2-hour, 40-minute WeatherTech Championship “sprint” in 2023, IMSA and IMS quickly agreed to lengthen the race to six hours moving forward. A field of 57 or so high-tech sports cars negotiating the legendary Brickyard for six demanding hours? Now that truly sounds like one of the greatest spectacles in racing.

Adam Sinclair