IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has chosen to no longer run the LMP3 category, once the 2023 season ends.
The category was introduced in the American series for the 2021 series, where the numbers in DPi, LMP2, GTLM and GTD were getting smaller and smaller.
That has changed now, with major increases in all categories – especially the GTP category, where an excess of 10 competitors is expected for the full season entry. The LMP3 category has usually delivered just shy of 10 cars, on the race weekends where the cars compete.
But the category has been under fire on more than one occasion.
The entry level to the category, in regards to driver qualifications is very low. Everybody with an American racing license is able to compete. That, combined with the very low running costs per mile on LMP3 cars vs GTD/GT3, has resulted in many drivers with very low experience in the series.
They have often resulted in caution periods during the races, when one of these cars runs off the track due to a driver mistake – but the culmination of that probably came at Sebring 2023, where an LMP3 driver ran into the rear of a Porsche Penske Motorsport GTP car, while running behind the Safety Car, resulting in an extra pitstop for repairs on both cars.
But despite all those negatives, there are positives too. No matter if it’s IMSA or the ACO series like European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Asian Le Mans Series. Drivers like Thomas Laurent, Job van Uitert and Malthe Jakobsen all got their sportscar breakthrough in the category. The cars have laptimes between LMP2 and GTD/GT3, but with top speed quite close to LMP2, which is a challenge in itself.
If you want to do LMP3 racing in the US, it is still possible to race in the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, where LMP3 cars races together with GT4 cars. The series started accepting LMP3 cars back in 2020, under the Prototype Challenge banner, before adding GT4 for this year, resulting in the name change.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has already confirmed that the LMP2 cars will continue to race through 2025 at least, in addition to the GTP and GTD categories.