IMSA GTP discipline primed for a four-way title battle at Petit Le Mans
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is not any stranger to shut championship battles. For the final three years it has come down to at least one workforce ending in entrance of one other within the closing race for the championship. Final yr it was Wayne Taylor Racing vs. Meyer Shank Racing. In 2022 it was WTR vs. Motion Specific Racing. In 2021 it was Acura Group Penske vs. WTR.
For 2023, you’ll be able to add one other ‘versus’ – or two. AXR vs. WTR vs. Porsche Penske Motorsport vs BMW M Group RLL.
Because the WeatherTech Championship heads towards Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Highway Atlanta on Oct. 14 – at all times a wild one, even when championships aren’t on the road – there’s a useless warmth between three groups representing three producers, separated by a complete of 5 factors. Whichever workforce finishes on high, wins the championship, Solid the web somewhat wider, and there’s a fourth workforce representing the fourth producer that has a shot underneath the appropriate circumstances.
“By no means in my wildest desires within the first yr of GTP did I believe we might have it that tight – not simply going into the finale, however all season,” mentioned IMSA President John Doonan. “And to have all producers stand on the highest step of the rostrum. All of those that’ve invested in it have an amazing quantity to be happy with. I believe in a whole lot of methods IMSA and our technical workforce have loads to be happy with. I hope sincerely that the followers have appreciated and loved what they’ve seen up to now, and I believe everybody ought to strap in for Motul Petit Le Mans as a result of it’s going to be one heck of a present.”
Right here’s the way it breaks down: Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims lead the championship for Cadillac Racing with the No. 31 Motion Specific Racing V-Sequence.R with 2460 factors; WTRAndretti’s Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor are three factors behind, representing Acura with the No. 10 ARX-06; two extra factors in arrears are Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy, who scored their second win of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway within the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963. Whoever finishes greater amongst these three groups at Petit Le Mans takes the championship. Until… ought to Connor De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly end two or three positions forward of all of them within the No. 25 BMW M Group RLL M Hybrid V8, relying on what occurs in qualifying, they win.
The No. 7 PPM workforce of Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell are additionally, mathematically, inside attain of the championship, however it could take a reasonably weird set of circumstances for the title to go their means.
How on this planet did this occur? Pre-season expectations have been that one or two of the producers would have nailed the reliability on their new GTP equipment and that might result in a runaway for considered one of them. Acura definitely appears to have been probably the most dependable proper out of the field, adopted by Cadillac. However the two Acura groups have appeared to seek out methods to shoot themselves within the foot this season.
As it’s, each one of many contenders has had good races and unhealthy races, and it’s all evened out spectacularly. Except WTRAndretti, every of the contenders has a victory – amongst them, solely Jaminet and Tandy have two, the primary coming at Lengthy Seashore. AXR, WTRAndretti and the No. 25 BMW squad have arrived right here largely on consistency vs. feast-or-famine for Tandy and Jaminet.
There’s going to be a whole lot of stress on these drivers at Petit Le Mans, plus the third drivers that be a part of them for the 10-hour race. Nonetheless, most of them have been right here earlier than. Taylor is taking a look at his fourth yr in a row on this state of affairs, the primary with Acura Group Penske (towards WTR) and the final two with Albuquerque and WTR – spare a thought for the WTR guys, having three runner-up championship finishes in a row. Derani and Nasr have been on the opposite finish of that battle in 2021 after they took the title for AXR. And Jaminet recollects an identical state of affairs in ADAC GT Masters in Europe.
“In 2018 I gained the ADAC GT Masters, I gained it by only one level within the final race, so type of an identical state of affairs,” defined Jaminet. “I believe again then additionally two vehicles, or two or three vehicles going to the final race. So yeah, it will likely be a anxious state of affairs. However that’s the identical for everybody. So it will likely be about who performs at his greatest on the key second.”
Nonetheless it seems, the championship is nearly absolutely going to come back all the way down to the ultimate minutes of the season, simply because it has the final three years. There are simply extra gamers this time, and that makes all of it the higher and extra stunning.