DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — During the annual State of the Sport presentation at Road America on Aug. 5, IMSA President John Doonan detailed plans to increase recognition for Bronze-rated drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class.
Those plans included the introduction of the Bob Akin Bronze Cup championship — which will honor the top Bronze-rated drivers in GTD at each race — along with end-of-season recognition as part of the annual WeatherTech Night of Champions celebration. This also comes with entry into the 2024 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Additionally, it was confirmed that the first 15 minutes of second practice for every WeatherTech Championship race will continue to be reserved for the GTD, LMP2 and LMP3 classes.
New Qualifying Procedure For Bronze GTD Drivers
As part of his State of the Sport presentation, Doonan alluded to additional plans being developed for Bronze GTD drivers, which have recently been confirmed.
For 2023, IMSA will allow a single driver of any categorization — Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum as shown on the FIA Driver Categorization List — to qualify the car to earn starting position and qualifying points. If a Bronze driver qualifies, they may start the race on any set of tires from the car’s allocation without penalty.
Any non-Bronze driver will be required to start on their qualifying tires.
In addition to the overall Bob Akin Bronze Cup championship, IMSA will recognize the top three Bronze-rated finishers in the season standings during WeatherTech Night of Champions.
“Bronze-rated drivers literally make it possible for their teams to go racing — not only in the WeatherTech Championship GTD class, but it many other IMSA classes and series,” Doonan said. “These drivers provide vital funding for their teams and have provided the backbone of sports car racing throughout its history. These enhancements will provide more benefits for Bronze-rated drivers in the GTD class and focus more well-deserved attention on their success in the WeatherTech Championship.”
Prior to the 2023 season, IMSA also will conduct its annual review of the IMSA Sporting Regulations & Series Supplementary Regulations, including timing and scoring of drive time.
WeatherTech Sprint Cup Set for 2023 Return
In addition to the Bob Akin Bronze Cup enhancements, IMSA also announced the return of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup for the GTD class in 2023.
The Sprint Cup will comprise the seven WeatherTech Championship races on the 2023 schedule that are two hours and 40 minutes in length or shorter. As has been the case in previous years, WeatherTech Sprint Cup driver, team and manufacturer champions will be honored at season’s end.
One difference from previous years is that there will be no Sprint Cup-only races in 2023.
The full WeatherTech Championship GTD schedule includes all 11 races next year. Within the overall championship, the seven sprint races count toward the Sprint Cup and the four endurance races count toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.