Audi's R8 Grand-Am at Daytona International SpeedwayEnlarge Photo
The merger of ALMS and Grand-Am
announced in September, 2012, is moving forward, with the first joint races to be held in the 2014 season. Today, the racing organizations laid the foundation for merging the classes of each series into a single format.
So far, it looks like most of the classes from each series will be retained individually, though the LMP1 class appears to be going the way of the dodo in the merged series.
Grand-Am's Daytona Prototype (DP) class will combine with the ALMS P2 class to form a single prototype class. Also joining the fray will be the Nissan DeltaWing. Performance across all cars will be "balanced" to make the racing close.
The rest of the classes will continue as separate classes, including the Prototype Challenge (PC) class and all of the GT classes except the ALMS GTC cars, which will merge with Grand-Am's GT class.
Plans for Grand-Am's new GX class, which makes its race debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway later this month, haven't yet been finalized. The joint series is considering including the GX class in the merged Grand-Am GT class for 2014, but may also run the class as its own independent category.
With these preliminary issues of nomenclature out of the way, the real work--defining the classes and the cars that will compose them--begins.
As Grand-Am managing director of competition Richard Buck put it, "Our organizations' respective competition departments are working diligently on balance of performance for the top prototype class, plus overall class specifications across the board. This process is not being rushed. We are carefully gathering input from drivers, teams and stakeholders throughout the sports car industry, emphasizing inclusion, as we work toward a simple--but also complex--goal: we want to get it right the first time."
We certainly hope they do, though we can't really see how the merger of the two series can go wrong from a fan's point of view--each series hosts some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing around; combining them should make it that much more exciting. As long as the teams stick around--and that will depend on fair and balanced rules.