LEXINGTON, Ohio — Michelin North America Inc. is expanding its partnership with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), agreeing to add a new championship — the Porsche Carrera Cup North America — to the portfolio of IMSA series it already supplies.
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) disclosed the creation of the Carrera Cup North America Sept. 25 during the IMSA Weathertech Championship race weekend held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington.
The single-make Carrera Cup will feature a new iteration of the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 sports-car, competing in 16 races at eight tracks in the U.S. and Canada.
The new series likely will impact Yokohama Tire Corp., which is the supplier and sponsor of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge that's part of the 2020 IMSA schedule. IMSA didn't say specifically the new series would supplant the GTE Cup, but a spokesman for PMNA did say: "Yokohama will continue to have a place in the Porsche one-make structure in North America."
Yokohama has been the marketing and technical partner of the GT3 Cup in the U.S. since 2009 and integrated a separate Canadian version into the U.S. support/sponsorship in 2016.
Last year Yokohama struck a deal with PMNA to expand their relationship, agreeing to take over as title partner and exclusive tire provider for the Porsche Sprint Trophy USA West and Porsche Air-Cooled Cup USA series.
Daniel Armbruster, president and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America, said the Carrera Cup will be a step up from the Cup Challenge that's run in North America up to now, calling it a "new and unique series" in North America and the "ultimate regional step" in the one-make championships globally.
Michelin, which took over in 2019 as the exclusive tire supplier for nearly all of IMSA's racing activities, will supply the new series with Pilot Sport Cup N3 racing slicks. Financial terms were not disclosed.
This will become the 10th Porsche Carrera Cup, joining existing national series in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Japan along with regional series for Asia and Scandinavia.
The national and regional Carrera Cups make up the global Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, which funnels champions of the various series to Porsche Mobil Supercup and into professional sports car and GT racing.
Porsche supports 11 other Porsche one-make championships competing in 31 countries on five continents.
Tony Ménard, motorsport director, Michelin North America, noted that Michelin has worked with Porsche Motorsport for nearly six decades, a partnership "that has defined the track-to-street programs that companies strive for.
He called the addition of the Porsche Carrera Cup in North America "another thread in the fabric of the global customer racing partnership between the companies."
The inaugural season of the championship will feature three classes — pro, pro-am and rookie — but all drivers will be eligible for overall victories, IMSA said. The pro-am class is eligible for "gentlemen" drivers, those who do not make a primary profession of automobile racing, while the rookie class is open only to drivers who are 23 years old or younger.