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“Flawed” IMSA BoP sparks WEC switch for Porsche GTD racer Hardwick

The IMSA SportsCar Championship’s reluctance to tweak its GTD Balance of Performance and aid the latest Porsche has prompted 2022 series runner-up Ryan Hardwick's switch to the World Endurance Championship.

#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R 992: Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen, Zacharie Robichon, Dennis Olsen

The 42-year-old has signed to race a Proton Competition Porsche in at least the first three rounds of the WEC, alongside 2021 IMSA GTD champion Zacharie Robichon and two-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Harry Tincknell, and will also contest the first two rounds of the European Le Mans Series for Proton with Robichon and Alessio Picariello.

He already had a guaranteed entry in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the top-ranked Bronze driver in last season's IMSA GTD standings, having finished second alongside Jan Heylen with Porsche squad Wright Motorsports and won the season-opening Daytona 24 Hours.

But Hardwick explained that his decision to concentrate on European racing while downscaling his IMSA GTD programme to the four endurance races was prompted by a trying debut for the latest iteration of Porsche's 911 RSR-19s at Daytona in January.

Heylen qualified quickest of the Porsche drivers, but was 2.849s slower than Philip Ellis’ class-leading Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, while Pfaff Motorsports's GTD Pro Porsche was the best placed of the 911s in the race and finished a lap down as the tenth GT3 car home.

Hardwick, Robichon, Heylen and DTM race winner Dennis Olsen finished ninth in class, six laps down.

Outlining that his WEC switch would help him “to better prepare for my entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans” with more track time in the GTE-spec RSR Porsche, Hardwick said he was “extremely disappointed by what took place in the GTD class at Daytona” which had contributed to his decision to reduce his IMSA programme.

He said: “There has been a lot of finger-pointing as to who was at fault for one brand being at such an extreme performance disadvantage compared to the rest of the GTD class. Personally, I don’t care who is at fault. I do feel strongly that some changes need to be made.

“What took place during the race was a sad display of just how flawed the current IMSA BoP system truly is.

Hardwick was left frustrated by IMSA's reluctance to address Porsche's lack of speed at Daytona with a BoP tweak

Hardwick was left frustrated by IMSA's reluctance to address Porsche's lack of speed at Daytona with a BoP tweak

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

“The product that we all put forward on track in Daytona was a disgrace to our fans, our manufacturers, our sponsors, our teams and our drivers. The truth is the current BoP process has failed us. All of us.

“This sport is special because it has historically been a competition among people, and it has always rewarded those people who can extract the most performance from their cars. Unfortunately, the current BoP process and the IMSA officials who continue to defend it, are severely damaging the true spirit of competition within our sport.

“What took place in Daytona should never happen again, and it is my hope that the manufacturers and IMSA officials will work together to make some much-needed changes, because our sport deserves it.

“The people and sponsors who drive this sport forward deserve it. And most importantly, our fans deserve it. I hope that IMSA makes these changes soon.

“Meanwhile I am very much looking forward to competing in the WEC, ELMS and also the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year!”

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