IMSA has made a number of changes to the format for for 2021, which include a new qualifying format for the Weathertech Sportscar Championship and changes to the points structure.
The changes were announced by IMSA president John Doonan during Wednesday’s State of the Series address.
The amount of points handed out during WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge rounds will be significantly increased starting in 2021, with the amount of points increased tenfold compared to previous years.
A win will now be worth 350 points compared to the previous tally of 35, with the rest of the points increased to 200 for second, 300 for third, all the way down to 30th place in each class.
Additionally, teams in the Weathertech Sportscar Championship will also be awarded points in qualifying, worth ten percent of race points. This means that pole will be worth 35 points, with 32 points for a second-place qualifier, 30 for third.
“The introduction of qualifying points will bring even more excitement to our event weekends and the season championship,” said Doonan. “With points on the line, we expect teams will go all out in qualifying as well as the races to earn as many points as possible. Qualifying points also will reward a team’s performance throughout an entire weekend.”
Along with the addition of qualifying points, IMSA has also opted to change the qualifying format for LMP2, LMP3 and GTD starting in 2021.
The sessions in these classes will be split in two, with two different drivers in the car during the two segments. The first segment will resemble the current qualifying format, with the Am drivers in the car on fresh tyres to set the qualifying times and determine the grid order.
Once this has been completed, a driver change will be completed, after which the Pro drivers, also on new tyres, will compete for qualifying points.
“Including multiple drivers in qualifying for our Pro-Am classes provides some unique opportunities,” Doonan said. “The Am drivers will continue to play the ultimate role of establishing each car’s starting position, while the Pro drivers should contribute to further showcasing each car’s performance.”
Traditional schedule returns for 2021
Finally, Doonan also confirmed the schedule for the 2021 IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship, with a calendar that closely resembles the original 2020 schedule before it had to be significantly altered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season will once again have its traditional kickoff with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 28-31, which is preceded by the Roar Before the 24 the previous week.
The Twelve Hours of Sebring, which acts as the season finale this year, has been moved back into its traditional March spot, forming the SuperSebring header alongside the FIA World Endurance Championship, which will likely host its season opener on the same weekend.
This is followed up by two Californian rounds in April at Long Beach and Laguna Seca, followed by a round at Mid-Ohio in May. Belle Isle hosts the sixth round with a date yet to be confirmed.
The Sahlen Six Hours of the Glen is held back-to-back with a round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, followed by Lime Rock Park, Road America and the second GT-only round at Virginia International Raceway before the season wraps up on October with Motul Petit Le Mans.