The first season of the new IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge has barely begun and there’s already controversy. All expected the Touring Car series to be tightly fought with factory-built machines being sold to competitors, and competitors looking for every advantage against each other.
The ‘Roar Before the 24’ is the first time IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge cars are on track, with 31 Grand Sport (GS) and nine TCR cars from nine different manufacturers preparing for the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge coming up on Friday, Jan. 25.
Unfortunately, two of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge cars were not allowed to continue to participate in the remainder of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test sessions by IMSA officials, due to a significant rules infraction.
The Number 37 and Number 73 Honda Civic TCR entries were restricted from competing in further test/qualifying sessions by IMSA officials following sporting penalties. The technical inspection revealed both cars were running below the published minimum weight allowed under the rules. The amount that the two cars were running underweight was not disclosed by IMSA officials, though our sources indicate it may be as much as 200 lbs below the assigned weight.
Both the Number 37 and Number 73 entries were being fielded by LA Honda World Racing. The team is supported by a Southern California Honda Dealer and is not connected with American Honda or Honda Performance Development, its racing arm and the company that sells the Type R TCR to competitors.
IMSA officials found the entrants in violation of IMPC SSR Attachment 2.7, which states in part: “Any Competitor, Constructor or Manufacturer who deliberately gives false information, attempts to influence the BoP process, manipulates the performance, or displays a level of performance above or below the expected result in any session may be penalized.”
The two team drivers were the fastest in the first three qualifying sessions but then were excluded from the fourth session after the weight discrepancy was identified.