Watkins Glen winner Stephen Simpson ‘always believed’ LMP2 could compete against dominant DPi
In an era where DPi has ruled the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, privateer LMP2 teams have hit back by winning the series’ past two races. Stephen Simpson of JDC-Miller Motorsports spurred the pushback with his three-wide overtake of two DPis to win at Watkins Glen.
Despite his victory being only the second time an LMP2 has visited victory lane in IMSA since the introduction of the DPi, Simpson maintains that his faith in the car has never wavered.
“I’ve always believed that I could beat the DPis driving an LMP2 car,” Simpson told Motorsport Week. “It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out over the rest of this season coming off winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours in the way we were able to do it.”
The following week at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, CORE autosport would follow with a worst-to-first victory in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Amidst BoP changes to tighten competition between the Prototype teams, race winner Colin Braun maintains that the team’s focus remains on the car while trusting IMSA’s direction.
“We’ve sort of taken the approach of we keep our heads down, we go to the racetrack, we work on our cars to try to get them faster,” Braun said in the post-race press conference. “IMSA is doing their job to balance the cars, and we just stay out of it and try to work on making our cars faster.”
“At the end of the day, as a team, that’s the only thing we can control.”
IMSA has maintained that their focus is on maintaining a competitive level between DPi and LMP2 programs rather than having them split into separate Prototype categories. The consecutive victories have been highlights for the privateer teams regarding a levelling of the playing field, but teams still feel that being in a DPi is the only way to fight for a title.
Recently, JDC-Miller Motorsports boss John Church admitted that the team has been considering a move to DPi in order to remain competitive. Despite the strides made with LMP2 and the confidence Simpson has felt in the team, he admits that a switch may be the team’s only option.
“We all have the same goal: we want to win races,” he explained. “Not just class races, we want to be fighting and winning overall races, and we also want to be fighting for a championship. I know that as a group, we feel that to genuinely fight for an overall championship we need to have a DPi program.”
“How that all comes together and when it comes together, I don’t know, but that’s our goal and our vision.”