DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), announced Friday before the Rolex 24 At Daytona that both sanctioning bodies are converging the top categories of endurance racing.
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, and Jim France, IMSA Chairman, unveiled the guiding principle for the platform – the introduction of the top category of competition LMDh, which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The convergence will allow auto manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone. The future top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar. A balance of performance (BoP) system will ensure fair competition.
“When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental SportsCar race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world,” said Jim France. “With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
“This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA,” said Fillon. “We can’t emphasize enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
“The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car,” said Gerard Never, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship. “The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
RILEY MOTORSPORTS MERCEDES-AMG WINS MICHELIN PILOT CUP CHALLENGE ENDURANCE RACE
The Riley Motorsports No. 34 Mercedes-AMG GT4 driven by Dylan Murry, Jim Cox and Jeroen Bleekmolen took home the Gran Sport victory in the BMW Endurance Challenge on Friday. The win is Riley Motorsports second consecutive endurance win in IMSA. The same trio of drivers also won last summer’s four-hour race at Watkins Glen International – and Murry and Cox also won November’s four-hour Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring.
“We’re petitioning IMSA to make all races four hours now,” said Cox.
The Winward Racing No. 57 Mercedes-AMG driven by Philip Ellis and Bryce Ward claimed the runner-up spot while their sister car, the No. 4 shared by Indy Dontje and Russell Ward finished third to make it a podium sweep for the German manufacturer.
ROAD SHAGGER RACING AUDI WINS TAKES TCR CLASS VICTORY
The No. 61 Road Shager Racing Audi RS3 LMS took home the victory in the TCR class. The victory was the second for the team, who won last year at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Mikey Taylor and William finished second in the No. 32 Speed Syndicate Motorsports Audi while Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson finished third in the No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi, giving another German manufacturer a podium sweep.
CHALLENGING DEBUT FOR HAILIE DEEGAN
Ford Performance development driver Hailie Deegan’s first foray into IMSA sports cars and endurance racing proved to be eventful for the 18-year-old rising star.
Deegan was running as high as 12th when her No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang suffered a pair of mechanical issues, at one point requiring about half an hour of work in the garage. But after driving more than two hours, Deegan brought the car into the garage for work and a driver change, leaving Ford teammate Chase Briscoe to finish the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge.
“I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said after climbing out of the car. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days. I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before and that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing. I’m gaining experience and that’s what I’m here to do.’’