Hard to Argue with IMSA’s Balance of Performance Report Card in 2024

Jackson Wheeler
6 Min Read

By definition, Balance of Performance is designed to produce a level playing field.

In a perfect BOP racing world, every manufacturer, every team, should have a chance to run up front or at least have a fair shot at standing on the podium at the end of a race weekend.

If that’s the goal, then the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship officials and BOP arbiters got it right in 2023 and have reason to smile this weekend at Road Atlanta—site of the season-ending Petit LeMans 10-hour race on Saturday.

“BOP is 100% a tool to maintain parity,” IMSA president John Doonan told Autoweek. “Just straight up statistics, to have 15 of our 18 manufacturers in the series win a race so far and every one of those 18 be on the podium, that’s special for me. It’s not just a box-checker, it’s pretty awesome when you’ve got that variety. Besides, creating a level playing field keeps costs in check.”

Translation. No arms race. No having to throw extra money or manpower at a problem just to keep up with the Joneses. BOP will bring the rabbits back to the pack eventually.

The 2023 sports car season also brought a convergence of IMSA and its European counterparts at the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) that resulted in a common set of rules allowing teams to compete in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship prototype classes using the same equipment in both series. While the merger of rules sets this season didn’t bring a host of WEC teams across the pond to compete in the IMSA GTP class like many U.S. fans may have hoped, it did produce a solid framework going forward.

This past week, sports car fans got a glimpse into the future of the IMSA GTP class when Aston Martin announced that it would bring its Valkyrie LMH project to both IMSA and the WEC in 2025. That crossover can be credited at least in part with the joint efforts to converge the ruled between the two series.

“I had the opportunity to be in Paris recently with our partners at the ACO and FIA, because we continue to talk about converging the two different rule sets,” Doonan said. “Talking about BOP is quite tricky because our approach with the LMDh technical regulations—which we call GTP—is to have a very tight set of regulations to prevent huge cost creep, and they’re locked in.

le mans 24 hour race

Porsche was a mainstay in prototype classes in both the IMSA WeatherTech Series and the World Endurance Championship.

Eurasia Sport Images//Getty Images

“The LMh regulations (with the ACO) are a little more free. It’s really come down to the technical departments at the FIA, the ACO and IMSA to try and maintain some very close racing and parity. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done there. We’ll see.

“We learned a lot in ’23 with both platforms running in WEC.”

As for grading the first year of the IMSA/ACO unification, Doonan says there were many positives. There’s still, however, some hurdles.

“Number 1, it’s brought a huge spotlight to a sport that we all love in terms of the variety because of the fact that the OEMs knew that they could race the same equipment on both sides of the Atlantic,” Doonan said. “There’s still a lot of work to do on the BOP front to get those two platforms to be able to perform together, but this year was step one in doing that.

Cadillac and the Porsche, both IMSA mainstays, also competed in the WEC Hypercar class this year.

A report card?

“Has an LMDh-based car won a (WEC) race yet? No,” Doonan said. “There’s been a few on podium. We continue to work with them to try to figure out what other things, what knobs do we need to turn. There’s quite a bit more work to be done on the convergence side. It’s a good start, but none of us are fully satisfied—on our side and in Europe.”

In the meantime, Doonan is just counting on a competitive hand hopefully controversy-free Petit Le Mans without the finger-pointing and grousing that comes with having one manufacturer dominating the GTP class.

“If someone had told me in January, ‘Oh, by the way, when you get to Petit, four teams, four OEMs and four driver combinations are going to fighting for the championship,’ I’d say, ‘Yeah right, you’re crazy.’ ”

Headshot of Mike Pryson

Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and MLive Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek in 2011. He won several Michigan Associated Press and national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for auto racing coverage and was named the 2000 Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club’s Michigan Motorsports Writer of the Year. A Michigan native, Mike spent three years after college working in southwest Florida before realizing that the land of Disney and endless summer was no match for the challenge of freezing rain, potholes and long, cold winters in the Motor City.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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