IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Returns to Long Beach in 2021!

IMSA President John Doonan detailed a number of significant news items for the 2021 season during his first State of the Sport presentation on Sept. 9.

IMSA’s State of the Sport has traditionally provided the calendar for the upcoming season. Doonan’s presentation was no exception, with 2021 provisional schedule unveiled for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

2021 WeatherTech Championship Schedule Revealed

The WeatherTech Championship schedule will see the series return to traditional venues next year, beginning with a week-long celebration of speed at Daytona International Speedway in January through the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans in its familiar, season-ending slot in October at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Highlights of the schedule include the return of the WeatherTech Championship to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Watkins Glen International, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park after a year’s absence. The season will feature one West Coast road trip – beginning with Long Beach on April 16-17 followed by WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca one weekend later on April 23-25.

The IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup again features 52 hours of racing at four iconic venues – Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, which includes the return of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the SuperSebring event; Watkins Glen International and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Visit imsa.com for the full championship schedule.

New Championship Points Structure Introduced; WeatherTech Championship Offers Qualifying Points

IMSA will adopt a new championship points structure for the WeatherTech Championship for all race events.

Points will be 10 times what they were in previous years, with a win now worth 350 points, 320 for second, 300 for third, etc. Points will continue to be awarded to 30th place in each class.

In addition, the WeatherTech Championship will begin awarding points for qualifying at 10 percent of the 2021 points structure. A pole will be worth 35 points, with 32 points for a second-place qualifier, 30 for third, etc. down to 30th place in each class.

Points from qualifying will be awarded for all drivers in each car in addition to each team. Each manufacturer’s highest-qualifying car also will earn points toward the manufacturers’ championship.

“The introduction of qualifying points will bring even more excitement to our event weekends and the season championship,” said Doonan. “With points on the line, we expect teams will go all out in qualifying as well as the races to earn as many points as possible. Qualifying points also will reward a team’s performance throughout an entire weekend.”

New Qualifying Format for GTD

Qualifying sessions for the WeatherTech Championship GTD class will be broken into two segments and split between two drivers. The first segment will see Am drivers on new sets of tires in each car to set its starting position.

At the end of the Am segment, there will be a mandatory driver and tire change. The driver in the second segment will qualify for championship points, also using new tires. The tires used in both qualifying segments must be used in the race, and all qualifying tires are considered part of each team’s event tire allocation.

“Including multiple drivers in qualifying for our Pro-Am classes provides some unique opportunities,” Doonan said. “The Am drivers will continue to play the ultimate role of establishing each car’s starting position, while the Pro drivers should contribute to further showcasing each car’s performance.”

The DPi and GTLM qualifying structure continues as it was in 2020, with each car being qualified by a single driver and also earning championship points.