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IMSA drops LMP3 class from 2024 amid GTP growth

The LMP3 division will be axed from the IMSA SportsCar Championship next year due to the rising popularity of other classes, including the new-for-2023 GTP category.

#30 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320: Ari Balogh, Garett Grist, Dakota Dickerson

#30 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320: Ari Balogh, Garett Grist, Dakota Dickerson

Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

In an announcement on Wednesday, IMSA stated that LMP3 cars will not be eligible to compete in its flagship series following this year’s Petit Le Mans season finale at Road Atlanta.

This will leave the championship with a four-class structure, with two categories each for prototype and GT cars.

LMP3 cars will however continue to find a home in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, which was established this year as a replacement for the now-defunct Prototype Challenge.

IMSA said it was necessary to drop LMP3 cars in order to accommodate an anticipated increase in GTP, LMP2, GTD Pro and GTD entries in the coming years.

The sanctioning body is expecting doubt-digit GTP grids in the near future, aided by the arrival of customer cars and potentially a fifth manufacturer alongside Acura, Cadillac, Porsche and BMW.

IMSA is also anticipating more GT3 cars to join the field across GTD Pro and GTD classes, with Ford gearing up to launch the Mustang in 2024 and Corvette preparing a new GT3 car from the ground up based on the C8.R.

#33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320: Lance Willsey, Joao Barbosa, Nico Pino, #74 Riley Ligier JS P320: Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Josh Burdon

#33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320: Lance Willsey, Joao Barbosa, Nico Pino, #74 Riley Ligier JS P320: Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Josh Burdon

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

“The LMP3 class has contributed to the growth and success of the WeatherTech Championship since 2021,” IMSA President John Doonan said.

“With that has come expanded fields at many events that can test the capacity limits we have at some IMSA tracks. 

“We expect that growth trend to continue into 2024 and beyond, making it necessary to just have the GTP and LMP2 classes for Prototypes with GTD PRO and GTD classes for Grand Touring (GT) competing together going forward.”

IMSA included LMP3 cars in the SportsCar Championship from 2021 in order to boost grid numbers, but the decision has come under fire in the following years due to poor driving standards in the category.

IMSA said the true intent of the LMP3 platform was always to nurture up-and-coming racing drivers by providing them with an affordable means of entry into prototype racing. It aims to continue to fulfil that goal with the future of LMP3 cars in the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge now secure until 2026.

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“We’ve already seen the promise that the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge holds through the first two event weekends,” Doonan said. “We saw a considerable increase in entries between the first race of the season at Daytona and Round 2 at Sebring, and the competition is tight. 

“The format of two 45-minute sprint races on a weekend allows LMP3 entrants to race for overall wins while competitors in both the LMP3 and GSX classes gain valuable multiclass racing experience. It’s the best learning environment for drivers and teams looking to move up the IMSA ladder.”

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