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The Future Is Now

Porsche is in the WEC, but for how long? [Photo by Jack Webster]

Porsche is in the WEC, but for how long? [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

This weekend at Daytona, the new DPi class made its debut at the Rolex 24, the opening round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.

Wayne Taylor Racing took the overall victory with their all new Cadillac DPi, followed very closely by the Action Express Cadillac. It was an incredible race, with fantastic close racing in deplorable conditions and for most of the race there were multiple cars dicing for the lead.

Mark it down right now. IMSA’s DPi class is the worldwide prototype class of the future, and with the 2017 running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the future is here. Now.

The FIA and ACO might as well give up on the P1 Hybrid class, right now. It is only a matter of time anyway, with only two manufacturers taking part in 2017 – Porsche and Toyota. All it will take is for one or both of those manufacturers to decide that the return they are getting for their massive investment is not worth it and then it becomes inevitable that IMSA’s DPi class becomes the worldwide standard for prototype racing.

Why would Porsche or Toyota continue to spend the Formula One type money they are spending to race in the WEC after they saw the results IMSA obtained at Daytona? In IMSA, for probably what the WEC prototype teams are spending on hospitality alone, factory supported teams from a variety of manufacturers put on one hell of a show and the fans showed up in droves to show their support.

It is time for the FIA and ACO to get on the IMSA train, because it has left the station and is gaining speed rapidly. With the success of the Rolex 24 and the promise of even more cars and teams joining the series as time moves on, in a year the FIA and ACO will be begging IMSA teams to join them.

IMSA has hit a grand slam homerun with the DPi formula, and influential people around the world are taking notice. Manufacturers don’t live in a bubble, they watched the Rolex 24 and they are going to be lining up to become part of the IMSA family.

It is perhaps no coincidence that Ralf Jüttner of Joest Racing was on hand at Daytona to take in the scene and gather information for perhaps a Joest return to the US to race in IMSA in the future. Also on hand at Daytona was Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, former head of Audi Motorsport, now retired – perhaps he and other Audi personnel spotted at the Rolex were on hand to enjoy the balmy Florida weather (we hardly think so). We already know that Roger Penske is looking seriously at a DPi program, and after the outstanding race at the Rolex 24 there are without doubt many more teams and factories looking to get on the IMSA bandwagon.

Sports car racing must continue to evolve to survive and prosper. Back in 1970, the Porsche 917K was thought of as the ultimate sports prototype racer, and more recently, the Audi R18 was thought of in the same way. Rules change, cars change, and what was considered the ultimate car in the ultimate race series in the past is now remembered through the rose colored glasses of history. But, alas, that is history. We live in the present and are heading into the future.

IMSA is the future, and as the Rolex 24 just proved, the future is now. Time to get on board.

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Eddie LePine & Jack Webster
Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970's, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com. Eddie LePine has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up). You can usually find Eddie in the paddock area, deep in conversation with a driver.
Eddie LePine & Jack Webster

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