IMSA revives the GTP name for its next-gen prototypes
The move was described as a “back to the future” by IMSA President John Doonan as sports car racing enters what should be a new golden era in North American series and the Endurance World Championship.
Doonan said Thursday’s announcement of the move to Daytona ahead of the IMSA 2022 season opener this weekend “makes the hairs on my arms stand on end.”
He said, “I was sitting on the hill at Road America, Mid-Ohio and Brainerd [in the 1980s] watching what we felt was the absolute pinnacle of our sport; we would like to celebrate that.
“We are also opening what I would say will be the next pinnacle, possibly the greatest ever with the top category.”
IMSA explained that the name GTP is also appropriate for the coming era, as the LMDh and LMH regulations allow manufacturers to integrate design elements from road cars into their racing machines.
GTP, which stood for Grand Touring Prototype, was introduced in what was then called the IMSA GT Championship in 1981 and ran until 1993 when it was replaced by the World Sports Car class.
Manufacturers involved in the GTP included Porsche, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Nissan, Toyota and Chevrolet.
Doonan explained that the WEC promoter and organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, supported the revival of the GTP name by IMSA.
The adoption of the GTP name for 2023 takes IMSA back to the golden age of multi-brand prototype racing in the late 80s and early 90s
Photo by: Motorsport pictures
WEC’s premier class was renamed Hypercar when LMH was introduced this year and will retain that moniker when the LMDh cars arrive in 2023.
“We have a really established relationship with Pierre [Fillon, ACO president] and all the steering committee members that we have together,” Doonan said.
“When we mentioned that we were having discussions with our stakeholders about the GTP name, Pierre and everyone else were fully behind us.
“The same way the WEC had GTE and we had GT Le Mans, you have to do what is best for your market.
Doonan insisted there was “no pressure” on IMSA to adopt the Hypercar name.
The LMDh category was announced by the IMSA and ACO in January 2020, but it was not until 18 months later that it was confirmed that LMH cars would be allowed to race against LMDhs in the IMSA series.
This will allow Toyota, Peugeot and Ferrari to join the five manufacturers – Porsche, Audi, Acura, Chevrolet and BMW – engaged in LMDh machine racing in IMSA from the start of next season.