DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The uniqueness of Lime Rock Park, combined with the incredibly close competition among the Grand Touring (GT) classes of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2022, could provide a rare but not unanticipated result in Saturday’s FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix: an overall winner coming from the GT Daytona (GTD) class.
The GTD PRO class introduced this year runs with the same homologated GT3-spec cars that GTD uses. The primary difference is that most GTD PRO teams boast strong manufacturer support and put Pro level drivers (rated Platinum or Gold by annual FIA standards) at the wheel, while GTD teams are typically manufacturer customers and must run at least one Silver- or Bronze-rated driver.
Still, the competition among teams and drivers has been intense, with followers awaiting the time that a GTD car would take the “overall” GT win. It did happen – officially – in June at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, but under unusual circumstances.
The No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3 – from the GTD PRO class – crossed the finish line first among the GT classes, followed by the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the GTD class, but those cars were among nine moved to the rear of their respective classes for drivers failing to meet the revised minimum drive time standard set for the race shortened by a lightning delay.
That elevated the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 from GTD to the top spot among all GT entries, with GTD cars making it a 1-2-3 sweep. Roman De Angelis, co-driver of that No. 27 Aston Martin with Maxime Martin, thinks it could happen again at Lime Rock under more traditional racing conditions. Especially since this race features only the GT cars.
“It was done before a bit by fluke,” De Angelis said of the GTD win at Watkins Glen, “but it’s possible (this weekend) with all the GTs together and no prototype or traffic intervention. It could be really interesting.”
Lime Rock is a fast, short, tight circuit. Overtaking can be difficult in evenly matched cars, so drivers will need to attempt bold passes when the opportunities arise. Timing of pit stops and being on the fortuitous end of when a yellow flag waves will be key.
“A lot of these tight tracks where it’s difficult to pass, there’s a lot of fuel saving and a lot of undercut, overcut,” De Angelis said in reference to making a pit stop before (undercut) or after (overcut) the leader to gain track position. “A lot of things that go into it can make a bigger difference sometimes than on-track battles. I think it will be an interesting one to watch from a strategy aspect as well.”
Regardless what happens, the Silver-rated De Angelis enjoys going wheel to wheel with the Golds and Platinums of the GTD PRO class, knowing he and Martin can compete on equal footing – and maybe come away with bragging rights.
“That’s probably the greatest thing about them making the cars equal,” he said, “it’s the ability for everybody to have a chance.”
A pair of WeatherTech Championship practice sessions take place Friday at Lime Rock ahead of qualifying at 5:40 p.m. ET that afternoon (livestream on IMSA.com/TVLive). The two-hour, 40-minute race is available live at 3 p.m. Saturday on Peacock and IMSA Radio. The USA Network telecast starts at 5 p.m. Saturday.