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Second year of IMSA’s GTP ruleset will be less forgiving in 2024 – Aitken

Jack Aitken anticipates that the second season for the IMSA SportsCar Championship's GTP ruleset will be "less forgiving" of teams dropping points than was the case in 2023.

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All four manufacturers that contested the North American series in the first year of its new hybrid LMDh cars won races, and each went into the final round at Petit Le Mans with a chance of the GTP title.
Ultimately it was claimed by Action Express Racing Cadillac pair Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims, who were joined by Aitken for the endurance rounds.
The 28-year-old has joined Derani on the roster full-time this year, as Sims switched to Corvette Racing's IMSA GTD Pro operation, with the duo joined by former Meyer Shank Acura driver Tom Blomqvist for the five long-distance races that this year includes Indianapolis. 
Speaking to Autosport following his appearance on the main stage at last week's Autosport International Show, Aitken admitted that "even we were slightly in disbelief" to have claimed the title after winning only once in 2023 and recognises that the maturing of programmes from Acura, BMW and Porsche will pose a stiff challenge this year.
"It was such a chaotic year that even though we came out on top, I think even we were slightly in disbelief that was how it ended up," the Briton said.
"We made so many mistakes, gave away so many points through the year that we felt sure that someone else would do a better job and yet nobody did.
"It’s not a disservice to the programme that we put together, we did the best that we could.
#31: Whelen Cadillac Racing, Cadillac VSeries.R, GTP: Pipo Derani, Jack Aitken, Tom Blomqvist

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

#31: Whelen Cadillac Racing, Cadillac VSeries.R, GTP: Pipo Derani, Jack Aitken, Tom Blomqvist

"It’s just that it’s an incredibly hard challenge with these new cars on an IMSA calendar where the tracks are not forgiving, the traffic is not forgiving and the drivers are brutal. Everyone made a lot of mistakes, and we made the best of it."
When asked if 2024 will be less forgiving of off-days, Aitken replied: "I think so.
"We already saw at the end of the year that teams were doing a better job than they were at the start of the year, and that’s absolutely just going to carry over into the start of this year.
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"I don’t think it needs to be any harder-fought, it was already hard-fought, but it will be less forgiving as you say."
Aitken claimed the standalone Endurance Cup together with Sims and Derani in 2023 as the best-scoring team across Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, but stressed he still feels "a bit of a newcomer".
"I contributed to the result, but in the end, it was Pipo and Alex’s [championship victory]," he said.
"I would like to emulate what they did this year, but I don’t by any means think that I’ve already done it.
#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac Racing Cadillac V- Series.R: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, Jack Aitken

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac Racing Cadillac V- Series.R: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, Jack Aitken

"Contributing to the endurance races, versus doing the full calendar, are quite different things, so for me at least I feel like I am still a bit of a newcomer.
"At least I know the car well now, I know the series well.
"It’s just going to be some of the tracks that are new for me, and it’s never a small challenge to get up to speed in such a short time on those kinds of tracks where it’s gravel and then wall, but it’s a nice challenge."

"Talks ongoing" over DTM return

Aitken combined his maiden IMSA season in 2023 with a debut foray into the DTM with the Emil Frey Racing Ferrari team, and at the Lausitzring scored a first victory for a British driver since Jamie Green in 2019.
Having been forced to miss the Zandvoort weekend due to his IMSA commitments with Cadillac, Aitken is encouraged that there are no date clashes between the two series this year and said he's keen to continue in the German-based series this year.
"I am hoping to compete in DTM again, but that’s nothing confirmed and talks ongoing," he told Autosport.
"Maybe in the next month, we’ll have clarity on that but we’d like to carry on with that.
"I like to be in the car and I’m in a fortunate position where Cadillac don’t mind me doing those extra bits of racing, they’re happy for me to be out, unless I’m racing against a Cadillac."

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