The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech Championship begins next week with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and with it a new generation of GTP hybrid prototypes. Between Cadillac, Porsche, Acura and BMWthere are plenty of changes to be excited about within the top-end, but one difference that might surprise you on race day is the pit lane sound.
Sure, lower-end single-seaters and GT cars still have pure combustion powertrains, but when a GTP machine takes off from the stall, it doesn’t add much to the cacophony. The instant torque of the electric motors means you’ll only hear an increasing whine until the gas motor starts partway through the pit. Or not.
If you want to get a glimpse of what we’re up to, A competitor’s Marshall Pruett just posted one short video where you can see what Cadillac, Acura and BMW look like. As Pruett explains, teams are free to use any mix of drivetrains they want, whether it’s disconnecting from the battery and quickly switching to ICE once the speed limit is reached, or going all-electric for the whole thing.
There was originally a three-second time limit on maximum electric power, but IMSA decided to lift it due to concerns that drivers would be held back on track. On the other hand, the automatic ignition system, which is responsible for starting the engine as soon as a car is off its jacks, has been banned by 2023.
All GTP chassis get the same energy recovery system that uses components from Bosch, Xtrac and Williams Advanced Engineering, but these are tied to different engines developed independently by each constructor. The Acura uses a V6, while the others use a V8, and only the Cadillac is naturally aspirated.
Obligatory spec hybrid unit helps keep costs down while still giving manufacturers the opportunity to flex their muscles and differentiate their machines on the ICE side. It’s certainly new territory for IMSA, but it holds a lot of promise, with automakers participating at the highest level we’ve seen in a long time.
Daytona’s first practice was held on Friday Competitor report the first three times Acura, then Porsche, then Acura again. Six of the nine cars in the class were leading within one second. Next weekend can’t come soon enough.