Twelve world-class road racing facilities and events highlight the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule unveiled today as part of the now annual “State of the Sport” presentation at Road America, site of this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.
In 2018, the WeatherTech Championship will feature three classes of competition. The Prototype (P) class includes Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and LM P2 race cars battling head-to-head for class and overall race honors, the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class features factory-backed GT race cars in what is widely considered the best GT racing in the world, and the GT Daytona (GTD) class includes GT3 race cars from world-renowned manufacturers prepared by top professional race teams with highly competitive Pro-Am driver lineups.
“The 2018 WeatherTech Championship schedule again showcases the stability of our platform, while at the same time reaffirming our commitment to the best road racing venues and events in North America. And this time offering a few surprises for our fans,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Each race on our 2018 calendar has a rich history of sports car competition, which we expect to be at an all-time high next season across all three classes.
“The on-track product will include legendary manufacturers and competitors – some of which are returning to IMSA competition in 2018 after a short time away – and we’re confident it will capture the imagination of race fans everywhere.”
As has been the case since the series inception in 2014, the four Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup events will anchor the schedule. The 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona kicks off the season on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28, followed by the 66th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday, March 17, which also completes the season-opening “36 Hours of Florida.”
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen represents the third round of the Patrón Endurance Cup on Sunday, July 1, and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans will close out both the WeatherTech Championship and Patrón Endurance Cup season on Saturday, Oct. 13, one weekend later than the 2017 event.
Another key change for 2018 is the addition of the popular Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The two-hour, 40-minute WeatherTech Championship race is scheduled for Sunday, May 6. It will be the first WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio since the merger of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and America Le Mans Series at the end of the 2013 season. Both series raced there previously.
The Mid-Ohio round and the four Patrón Endurance Cup events represent five of eight races on the 2018 calendar that will feature all three classes. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada also will have all three classes competing on Sunday, July 8, as will Road America on Sunday, Aug. 5 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California on Sunday, Sept. 9. Those events also will be two-hours and 40-minutes in length.
The 2018 season again will feature a pair of 100-minute street circuit events. The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 14, will feature the Prototype and GTLM classes, while the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 2, will include the Prototype and GTD classes.
As was the case in 2017, the GT classes will have two featured events in 2018, both two hours and 40 minutes in length. Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut hosts GTLM and GTD on Saturday, July 21, while Virginia International Raceway will have its fourth consecutive GT-only round of the WeatherTech Championship on Sunday, Aug. 19.
The 2018 season will kick off with the annual three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test session on Jan. 5-7. The test is mandatory for all Rolex 24 participants.