DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The highly competitive nature of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is nothing new, but in 2022 it can be summed up in one statement: it all comes down to Motul Petit Le Mans.
Four of the five classes competing in the October 1 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta won’t determine the champions until the checkered flag flies after 10 hours of grueling and unpredictable racing well into the night. The only outlier is in the GTD PRO class, where Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R and drivers Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will secure the driver, team and manufacturer titles by taking the green flag.
Apart from that, it is a free game for everyone. Here is a summary of the possibilities for the remaining four classes:
International Daytona Prototypes (DPi)
The only thing almost certain is that an Acura team will claim the DPi drivers’ and teams’ championships. If the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 or No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 starts the race, it eliminates all Cadillacs from contention.
Then it all comes down to a fight between all the Acuras for the title. The No. 10, along with drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor, have a 19-point lead over the No. 60 and drivers Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis. A victory in the race by either car will give you the championship, with one exception noted below.
Ironically, the No. 10 had exactly the same 19-point margin before Motul Petit Le Mans a year ago and was overtaken by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-VR with drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr.
Ranking will be very important in various scenarios. If No. 60 beats No. 10, the points deficit heading into the race will be just under 20 points, meaning any top-five finish ahead of No. 10 will earn the Bishop France Trophy the MRS team.
If the No. 60 qualifies last in the expected seven-car DPi but wins the race, while the No. 10 takes the Motul Pole Award and finishes second, there would be a deadlock. The No. 10 holds the tiebreaker with the most wins this season and would be declared champion.
If the No. 60 got the pole and the No. 10 qualified last, the exact same scenario that played out in 2021 when the No. 31 got the pole and the No. 10 lined up seventh, it would be a straightaway. up, the one that finishes highest will be the champion stage. Last year, the No. 31 finished second in the race, one place ahead of the No. 10, and took the championship by 11 points.
In short, you won’t want to miss this qualifying session, which is green-flagged at 4:30 p.m. RoadAtlanta.com!
Two new scenarios enter the equation if No. 10 qualifies before No. 60.
The WTR team could afford to finish two places behind and still take the crown as long as the No. 60 doesn’t win the race. The second is that if both cars finish outside the top five, the No. 10 team is your champion.
The battle between the DPi manufacturers is so close that if Cadillac were to take the Motul Pole Award and win the race, it would result in a tie with Acura.
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2)
This class is unusual in 2022 because the driver and team champions could well come from different entrants. That’s because the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 has employed two driver line-ups this year: one for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races and one for sprint events.
The No. 52 has a 19-point lead over No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA going into the final, with No. 18 Era Motorsport 52 points off the lead. Depending on the number of LMP2 entries at Michelin Raceway (there were 10 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona), up to six teams could be eligible for the championship, but it is likely to be just the three mentioned.
In the driver chase, John Farano (No. 8 Tower Motorsport) leads Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel (No. 18 Era Motorsport) by 33 points. Steven Thomas (No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports) is 93 points behind and Henrik Hedman and Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 81 DragonSpeed USA) are 108 points behind. Farano wins the driver’s crown if he wins the No. 8, or finishes second and beats the No. 18. Options are multiple to determine the champion after that.
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3)
Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320 have the biggest lead in any class other than GTD PRO, but nothing is guaranteed. Essentially, they need to finish fourth or better to finish things.
To repeat as LMP3 champions, Gar Robinson and No. 74 Riley Motorsports (second place, 83 points behind) need to win and the No. 54 to finish fifth or worse. The task is more daunting for the No. 30 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier with drivers Ari Balogh and Garett Grist (third place, 119 points behind). To take the title, they must win and have the No. 54 finish ninth or lower, as well as the No. 74 finish third or worse.
GT Daytona (GTD)
As usual, the GTD class features the most championship chances due to the large number of entrants expected (there were 22, 17 and 16 in the previous three endurance races this year). Six teams have at least a remote shot at glory.
The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and driver Roman De Angelis lead. With a 45 point lead, a second place finish in the race and a top 10 qualifying effort he brings home the hardware. After that, the options for the No. 27 and De Angelis to continue winning the championship are multiple depending on where the other competitors finish.
Stevan McAleer and the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 are second in the standings. They need to win and have the No. 27 finish fourth or lower to guarantee the title.
Jan Heylen, Ryan Hardwick and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R are third in points, 57 off the lead. They could also earn GTD honors by winning and seeing the No. 27 finish fourth or worse, though qualifying results could play a role as well.
The other three contenders, the No. 57 Mercedes Winward Racing, the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 and the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, need to win and make those in front of them finish deep down. in the running order.
The GTD manufacturer ranking finds five OEMs grouped within the top 81 points. BMW holds a 23-point lead over Mercedes-AMG, but with a likely 110-point gap from first to last in the race, this prized championship is as open as the drivers’ and teams’ titles in the class.
Which means, with so many championships at stake in so many classes, the racing will be fierce all over the field on October 1. It will be another suspense.