Funneling two sports car series into a single championship has presented numerous challenges for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The latest item to be addressed in the merging of ALMS and Grand-Am series classes is the potential oversubscription at its events, which led the new organization to announce car count limits on its four categories on Friday.
“Based on the feedback we've received from our entrants, we expect full-season entries to put us at or near maximum capacity for every TUDOR Championship race next year,” said Scot Elkins, IMSA's VP of competition and technical regulations. “The issue of capacity has really come into focus since we announced our 2014 schedule last month and as our teams have begun to share their plans with us. Our projections have led us to make some additional adjustments.”
Entries for the TUDOR Championship will open on Nov. 1.
A change in the 2014 calendar was also announced. The Prototype Challenge (PC) class has had its place on the Detroit event schedule and also at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) deleted, replaced with a headlining, double-header event on the Kansas roval on June 7, which will also feature numerous support series, and another PC doubleheader at VIR. The Kansas event conflicts with scrutineering for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The format of the PC double-headers, as TUDOR Championship COO Scott Atherton told RACER, will be a unique affair. IMSA Lites cars will race with the PC cars, and the Pro-Am PC lineup will be split between the two sprint races.
“The finer details are being worked out, but the concept is to have one PC race with the Pro driver and a second race with whomever is paired with that driver,” said Atherton. “That is in recognition of having two drivers in each PC car, and that the IMSA Lites cars are not setup for pit stops. It's two sprint races at each event.”
The series previously announced every TUDOR Championship class would contest 11 races, but the PC class has now been reduced to 10.
By the numbers, the PC cars will race 12 times at 10 events in 2014, but the double-headers are being counted as single, consolidated rounds. The method for reconciling the points for the individual sprint races is a topic we're told will be explained at a later date.
“The number [of PC races] is 10; it is a revised number from what was originally announced,” Atherton confirmed.
The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round has also been defined as a split event with PC and GT Daytona cars in a race of its own, and Prototype and GT Le Mans racing on the same day in a separate event.
Like the PC double-headers, the length of the Monterey races have not been released.
“Changing the PC schedule doesn't seem like it should be the priority right now,” said Daytona Prototype and PC entrant Peter Baron, who owns the Starworks Motorsport operation. “We're still waiting on the rules, and once we have the rules we can set the budget. So while it's good to know where you'll be racing – and we already had a schedule telling us where PCs were going, it seems like we have the cart before the horse on what owners like myself have been asking for.”
Brian Alder, owner of the BAR1 PC team, shared a different viewpoint, and says the Kansas race, in particular, could be a positive for those in attendance.
“We'll race wherever they want us to race, and we'll plan accordingly so we know what to sell,” he noted. “Running in the same race with IMSA Lites – I think that would be interesting as that series needs some extra promotion. It works in our favor because we're looking to run multiple PC cars and multiple Lites cars next year, so it could be a good thing.”
The most interesting development, beyond altering the 2014 calendar less than a month after it was released, involves limiting the volume of TUDOR Championship classes.
According to Friday's release
, “The Prototype class will have a tentative cap of 20 cars at five venues: Sebring International Raceway, Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Detroit's Belle Isle and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The P class will be capped at 19 cars for all other venues on the 2014 schedule.
“The Prototype Challenge class will be tentatively capped at 10 entries for all TUDOR Championship events. The GTLM class will have a tentative cap of 19 cars at VIR, 16 at Long Beach, 14 at Sebring and Indianapolis and 12 at all others. GTD will be tentatively capped at 19 cars for all events except for Detroit, where the class will have capacity for approximately 21 cars.”
Along with paddock space, pit lane length is the most practical governor for dictating the maximum number of cars per race. Based on the number of entries received for each class, Atherton says changes could be made to those limits.
“Going by our projections, these are the best [class limit] estimates we can make,” he explained. “Full-season entries open on Nov. 1 and close at the end of the month. Once they're in, we'll have exact numbers for car counts. If it turns out the projections from September and October is something different than what we receive in November, we are reserving the opportunity to come back and adjust things accordingly.”