What will be an unforgettable 50th Anniversary season for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) gets under way this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with one of the most respected groups of manufacturers in motorsport comprised of 19 manufacturers eligible to participate.
The flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which opens its season with the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27, will have a total of 13 manufacturers competing. The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, which kicks off with the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday, Jan. 25, features some of the same manufacturers as the WeatherTech Championship, with six additional planning to compete in 2019.
“As our 50th Anniversary season begins, having a record number of manufacturers in our championships speaks volumes to the global relevance IMSA has confirmed as we look forward to the start of 2019 and beyond,” IMSA CEO Ed Bennett said. “Our strategy of providing dynamic, cost-effective platforms to showcase a wide variety of manufacturer technical specifications is rewarding for all involved, but race fans are the main beneficiary. It’s a fantastic time to be an IMSA fan.”
The participating manufacturers and their programs are as follows (in alphabetical order):
Acura – Fields two ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars with Acura Team Penske and also is represented by two Acura NSX GT3 entries in the GT Daytona (GTD) class from Meyer Shank Racing.
Alfa Romeo – Joins the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in 2019 in the Touring Car (TCR) class. Two Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR cars are entered at Daytona.
Aston Martin – Participates in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Grand Sport (GS) class. There are three Aston Martin Vantage GT4 cars on the entry list for Friday’s race.
Audi – Competes in both the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with entries in three different classes. In the WeatherTech Championship, there are four Audi R8 LMS GT3 race cars entered in the GTD class for the Rolex 24. The manufacturer’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge program includes three Audi R8s in the GS class and five Audi RS3 LMS TCR entries. Audi was the 2018 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR manufacturer champion.
BMW – A longtime IMSA competitor with entries in both the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. The manufacturer’s WeatherTech Championship program includes two BMW M8 GTE race cars in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class and one BMW M6 GT3 entry in GTD. In IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, there are five BMW M4 GT4 entries in the GS class.
Cadillac – The premium brand from General Motors has the most entries of any DPi-class manufacturer, with six Cadillac DPi-V.R machines set to compete in the Rolex 24 and throughout the 2019 WeatherTech Championship season. Cadillac has won the last two WeatherTech Championship Prototype manufacturer championships.
Chevrolet – Race cars in both the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Its pair of Corvette C7.R race cars fielded by Corvette Racing have yielded the past three consecutive GTLM driver and team titles. Chevrolet is represented in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge by one Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R machine in the GS class.
Ferrari – A staple of sports car racing, the premium Italian brand is represented in two different WeatherTech Championship classes at the Rolex 24. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE is the lone race car with the prancing horse in GTLM at Daytona, but there are three 488 GT3 entries in the GTD class. IMSA also sanctions the single-make Ferrari Challenge series in the United States.
Ford – The “Blue Oval” is also represented in both the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Its pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs return to the GTLM class in 2019, while there are six Ford Mustang GT4s on the GS class entry list for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. The manufacturer won both the GTLM and GS manufacturer championships last year.
Honda – Returns to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in 2019. There are five Honda Civic TCR machines on the entry list this weekend.
Hyundai – A newcomer to IMSA competition in 2019, Hyundai enters the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class. Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian will field two brand-new Hyundai Veloster N TCR machines, which were unveiled last week at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show.
Lamborghini – The Italian manufacturer picked up its first WeatherTech Championship GTD manufacturer championship in 2018. This year, there are five Lamborghini Huracán GT3 entries for the Rolex 24 in the GTD class. IMSA also sanctions the single-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series.
Lexus – The WeatherTech Championship GTD class has included a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 machines since 2017. This year, the pair of GTD entries will be fielded by the AIM Vasser Sullivan team.
Mazda – Recognized for its rich motorsport heritage, Mazda’s 2019 IMSA representation comes via the pair of Mazda RT24-P DPi race cars fielded by Mazda Team Joest.
McLaren – The British manufacturer will continue its IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge program in 2019, with a pair of McLaren GT4 entries in the GS class at Daytona.
Mercedes-AMG – Since joining IMSA for the first time at the beginning of 2017, the premium German brand has steadily grown its presence with customer programs in both the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. There will be two Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the GTD class at the Rolex 24, with seven Mercedes-AMG entries in the GS class for the BMW Endurance Challenge.
Nissan – The manufacturer of one of IMSA’s most prolific GTP race cars in the 1980s and early ‘90s will be represented in the IMSA 50th Anniversary season by the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi entry.
Porsche – The winningest manufacturer in IMSA will be well represented once again in 2019. There are two Porsche 911 RSRs in the WeatherTech Championship GTLM class, with three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs slated to compete in GTD. The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge entry list contains eight Porsche Cayman GT4 MR machines in the GS class. IMSA also continues to sanction both the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama single-make series.
Volkswagen – The German manufacturer continues its IMSA relationship with race cars eligible to compete in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class.
During the 2018 season, 11 of the 13 manufacturers who competed in the WeatherTech Championship won at least one race, and every manufacturer had at least one podium. There were 20 different teams and 53 different drivers that earned victories, with dozens more celebrating on the podium. In the Michelin Pilot Challenge, six of 10 manufacturers won races during the year and three others reached the podium at least once.