Stability, Enhancements, 2020 Schedules Name of the Game at Annual IMSA “State of the Series” Presentation
Friday, August 2, 2019

The annual IMSA weekend at Road America has become synonymous with a “State of the Series” presentation led by IMSA President Scott Atherton over the past several years.

The presentation has become an event in itself, where the following year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge schedules are traditionally unveiled, and future plans and developments are unveiled publicly for the first time.

Due in large part to the stability of IMSA’s racing platforms, there weren’t any “breaking news” announcements this year, such as the surprise unveiling of WeatherTech’s entitlement partnership back at the “State of the Series” in 2015.

But there was some “State of the Series” history made in Road America’s Tufte Center on Friday night. In addition to 2020 schedule announcements for the WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge, next year’s calendars for the five additional series that IMSA sanctions also were confirmed.

Schedules for the IMSA Prototype Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and Ferrari Challenge were part of the presentation. It’s the first time that has ever happened at an IMSA “State of the Series.”

“To confirm the details of every one of our 2020 series schedules so that all of our stakeholders – race teams, drivers, manufacturers, partners, and most importantly, our fans – can start making plans for next year is a real positive for everyone,” said Atherton. “It is the result of a tremendous amount of collaboration between our team at IMSA and our promoter partners and we are grateful for the hard work of all involved. All seven IMSA-sanctioned series will visit the very best road racing facilities in North America throughout 2020.”

The announcement of the flagship WeatherTech Championship schedule again featured events at the same 12 venues that have hosted the series since the 2018 season. The season will open with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on the weekend of Jan. 23-26 and will close with Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 7-10.

A significant piece of news that was revealed as part of the WeatherTech Championship schedule announcement is the fact that NBC network television coverage will “bookend” the season, with Rolex 24 At Daytona coverage and planned telecasts for the penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 13 and Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 10.

All 2020 WeatherTech Championship events will run within a week or less of the weekend they were contested in 2019, with nine of 12 running on exactly the same weekend. The four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds and the seven-race WeatherTech Sprint Cup for the GT Daytona (GTD) class also were confirmed at the same events as 2019.

The LMP2 class will shift to a six-race schedule for the 2020 WeatherTech Championship season. The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be a standalone “marquee” event and will not count toward WeatherTech Championship points, but it will count toward the class’ four-race Michelin Endurance Cup season. LMP2 will not return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2020, enabling IMSA to confirm a six-race season for the class and eliminating the challenge of competing on back-to-back weekends.

Other enhancements for both LMP2 and GTD coming in 2020 include the extension of dedicated practice time at each event for Bronze- or Silver-rated drivers to 30 minutes – 15 minutes of exclusive practice and 15 minutes of combined practice with DPi and GTLM cars – at the beginning of Practice 2 each weekend. Any participating driver/team will be allocated one extra set of tires.

The highest-finishing eligible Bronze or Silver driver in LMP2 and GTD again will be eligible for a year-end trophy – the Jim Trueman Award for LMP2 and the Bob Akin Award for GTD – and also will receive the coveted invitation to participate in the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge series, which has seen significant changes over the past few years including changes to class configuration, technical specifications and tire partner, will have a 2020 season without major alterations. The 10-race season returns the series to the same venues as 2019, all running as a companion to WeatherTech Championship events.

The IMSA Prototype Challenge returns for a six-race season in 2020, kicking off as it has since 2018 with a three-hour race during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend on Jan. 4-5. Notable changes for 2020 include a return to Road America for the first time since 2015, the elimination of minimum pit-stop times and the requirement that each car has at least one Bronze-rated driver. Platinum- and Gold-rated drivers will be prohibited.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season again will have eight weekends and a total of 16, 45-minute races, including a pair of season-opening races at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the weekend of March 13-15.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA also will shift onto the IMSA weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 11-13 for 2020 after racing as part of the IndyCar event weekend in 2019. Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA will have one combined event with Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama in 2020 – at Watkins Glen International on the weekend of June 25-27.

The 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada schedule includes six weekends and 12, 45-minute races. The series returns to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on Aug. 7-9 after a one-year absence and its first visit to Ontario’s Calabogie Motorsports Park since 2015 on the weekend of Aug. 28-30.

Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America will have a six-event, 12-round calendar in 2020. Each race again will be 50 minutes in length with two drivers required in each car.

The season will open at Barber Motorsports Park for the second consecutive year on the weekend of April 3-5 and the series will run alongside IndyCar and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada on the Honda Indy Toronto event weekend for the first time on July 11-12. The date and location for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo world finale – planned for October 2020 – will be unveiled later.

The 2020 schedule for Ferrari Challenge also was confirmed. The longtime IMSA-sanctioned single-make series will open its season at Daytona on the weekend of Jan. 22-25 in conjunction with the Rolex 24 At Daytona after a one-year absence from the Daytona high banks.

Other venues set to host the series next year include Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen International. The date and location for the 2020 Ferrari World Finals also will be announced later.

Beyond the schedule announcements, updates also were provided to the audience of stakeholders and media on the timeline for the evolution of the DPi platform coming in 2022, including the planned release of technical regulations in the first quarter of 2020.

Additional information was presented on the  IMSA Green initiatives announced in Detroit at the end of May and the ongoing IMSA 50th Anniversary Celebration, as well as a “teaser” for the “Art of Racing in the Rain” film that features IMSA racing and hits theaters on Aug. 9.