The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) has extended its strategic partnership with Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), creator and organiser of the Le Mans endurance motor-racing event, to continue their joint efforts to advance sports car racing around the world.
The new six-year deal will begin immediately and run until the end of the 2020 racing season. Under the agreement, IMSA and the ACO will introduce new Prototype regulations in 2017.
These regulations will govern the top class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans event, in addition to the IMSA’s United SportsCar Championship, the International Motorsport Federation’s (FIA) World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series. The extended deal will carry the partnership through the first four-year cycle of the Prototype regulations.
In addition, IMSA and the ACO will next year introduce new specifications for the top GT classes for the GT Le Mans at the United SportsCar Championship, as well the GTE at the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series.
The United SportsCar Championship will also shift its GT Daytona class to full FIA GT3 technical regulations in 2016. The GT regulation will be in effect throughout the 2019 season.
“Since announcing our original strategic partnership here at Sebring two years ago, the bond between IMSA and the ACO has gotten stronger,” IMSA chairman Jim France said. “This partnership will make it easier for our top teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and for top international teams in Prototype and GT racing to join us for our marquee events such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.”
The partnership will also continue to provide automatic entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans event to those that take part in the United SportsCar Championship. Under the licensing agreement, IMSA will be able to continue to utilise the Le Mans name for its GT Le Mans class and the Petit Le Mans event.
ACO president Pierre Fillon added: “It was essential for the ACO to rely on this strategic alliance to implement the harmonisation for LM P2 and LM GT categories that we can guarantee a long-term visibility for the endurance teams. With Jim France, we share the same values and commitment.”