IMSA Introducing New Tire Usage, Testing Regulations in American Le Mans Series
BRASELTON, Ga. - The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series, is introducing new regulations regarding tire usage and testing into the professional sports car racing series. The regulations are designed to help racing teams and tire manufacturers control costs.
The regulations take effect immediately upon the conclusion of the season-ending Audi Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., Oct. 16.
"For the first time, a cooperative mechanism has been established in which we can work with teams and manufacturers to establish rules that are good for everyone and sensibly limit the costs of racing," said Tim Mayer, Chief Operating Officer of IMSA. "The ACO is working hand in glove with us to help create this environment." The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) is the organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the event upon which the ALMS is based.
New regulations regarding tires and their usage cap the number of tires any American Le Mans Series car can have on days leading up to the race, including the race day warmup, to 20 dry tires. The number of tires that can be used in the race will remain open. In addition, "intermediate" tires will be eliminated, and a single wet tire per tire manufacturer, per class, will be mandated.
Teams may also use only one set of tires in qualifying.
"This is a landmark regulation that cuts out large areas of cost for both manufacturers and teams," said Mayer. "Intermediate tires had no benefit to the competition but added enormous cost. Hundreds of tires were manufactured and, for the most part, cut up.
"We feel that race teams will be self-regulating as to the number of tires they use in a race because no one wants to stop more often than they have to," he said.
"This creates an extremely predictable budget for the teams," said Mayer. "But, in the tradition of the American Le Mans Series, includes mechanisms where manufacturers can continue to innovate."
The establishment of a mechanism to regulate testing is also a first-time move by IMSA. The regulations apply to testing by race teams, chassis manufacturers and tire manufacturers.
"We have established rules which block off much of the most expensive forms of testing, while encouraging cost effective testing," said Mayer. "This structure provides us an extremely flexible mechanism by which we can monitor and curtail excessive costs."
Blackout periods have been mandated as part of the new regulations, applying to all four classes, and teams in all classes will be required to register test sessions with IMSA.
Specific caps have been placed on the amount of testing that can be done in the GT and LMP2 classes. "Most of the teams in these classes do not have excessive budget for testing," said Mayer. "This is an effort to level the playing field between the haves and the have-less. There is an appropriate amount of testing, but not so that any one team can test its way to victory."
The regulations do not apply to race teams testing in Europe for the purpose of competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"My congratulations to IMSA for being proactive and taking steps to address one of the top concerns of all racers, that being cost," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager for GM. "They've done an excellent job and have come up with a sensible solution to a difficult problem."
"The new regulations are aimed at reducing costs and this has to be good for both competitors and tire manufacturers," said Peter Tyson, Vice President of Marketing and Motorsports, Pirelli Tire North America. "The new rules have been framed in an intelligent way such that the spirit of competition is undiluted. We at Pirelli are quite satisfied with the result."
"I'm all for anything that will reduce my operating costs and help bring me closer to those who have more resources than my team," said Mike Pickup, owner of the PK Sport team that runs a Porsche 911 GT3 RS in the GT class. "I'm 100 percent supportive of IMSA in this effort."
"There was terrific cooperation between teams, manufacturers and IMSA in the design of these tire and testing regulations, and the rules themselves are wide-ranging and extremely comprehensive," said Mayer.