Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by Philip Brassor
Last Sunday at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, 48 crew members were at the start of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar race. Championship returns after a two-year absence to Canada this weekend at Mossport (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park).
Sadly on the Ontario road, they will only be 26 years old, at best! why ? Logically, teams competing in the Endurance Cup alone (the mini-tournament that brings together only Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans) as well as the LMP2 (the Canadian event not on the calendar for this category) will be absent. These are ten cars. where is the rest ? There is a worry far more troubling than many competitors, particularly teams registered in the GTD category: the restrictions preventing the freedom of movement of all citizens, which still apply at the Canada-US border.
Several teams that did not want to find themselves at the center of the controversy preferred not to comment on their withdrawal from the Canadian race for two hours and 40 minutes. On the other hand, some have identified that it was the rules preventing unvaccinated Covid citizens that forced them to ignore the event. This is the case for Wright Motorsports, one of the star teams in the GTD class and winner of the last 24 Hours of Daytona with Canada’s Zach Robichon, Belgium’s Jan Heylen and American Ryan Hardwick. The latter, driver and team owner, explained: “Our customer team Porsche Wright Motorsports will not participate in the event, due to current Canadian vaccine policies. (…) “. He added: “Many members of our team, including myself, are not vaccinated, which means we can’t travel to Canada due to the current Covid vaccine policies. At the start of the season, I was hoping Canada would drop the vaccine requirements before our race there, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Although I am disappointed that we are not competing in this event, I stick to my personal health decisions and those of my teammates.”
According to our information, IMSA last March assessed that about 40% of its team members had not been vaccinated with Covid. We also had access to documents IMSA sent to its teams indicating travel restrictions between Canada and the United States. Although it is intended to provide information, it is, to say the least, complex and even deterrent!
While the US endurance racing organization has decided to return to Canada this year with its flagship series, other organizations have preferred not to include any races in the country in their calendar for the 2022 season. Trans Am series, GT World Challenge America, GT4 America or even NASCAR Camping World Truck, which were scheduled It was originally held at Mosport.
It should also be noted that since the beginning of this year, the government of Joe Biden has imposed similar policies in Canada at its borders, by banning entry into the country to non-US citizens who did not pass through the Covid vaccine fund.
The fact remains that tough political decisions are once again coming to the detriment of a sporting event. The organizers of Mosport’s IMSA weekend, which will take place with 25-30% fewer registrations than expected, the region’s economy will be the biggest loser, as well as fans. Because for thousands of them, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park remains one of the most fun places in North America to fully experience a motorsport event! In the meantime, US teams will simply spend more money on other races in their country.
To discover the list of kits made into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series this weekend, click here. Note that in this list, Wright Motorsports is still present.
For the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series List, where we will find Quebecer Karl Wittmer, Ontarians Robert Wickens and Mark Wilkins in the TCR category, click here. The LMP3 Prototype Challenge Series and Masters Racing Legends will also be running at the event, dubbed the Chevrolet Grand Prix. For a detailed table, click here.
“Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie.”