By IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The drama-filled closing hours of the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 13 brought a thrilling conclusion to a successful 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – and not just on the racetrack.
The 2.54-mile Road Atlanta road course in Braselton, Georgia that has hosted the prestigious event run for the 21st time in 2018 was packed with race fans as perfect weather conditions combined with world-class racing brought one of the largest audiences ever for the event.
And those fans were treated to a race – and a championship – that came down to the final moments to be decided. The overall and Prototype class-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R shared by co-drivers Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay took a last-lap victory. In the three class championship races, the largest margin of victory between first and second was a mere six points and could have gone either way in the final hour.
“The 21st Annual Motul Petit Le Mans was a brilliant success by every measure,” said Road Atlanta President Geoff Lee. “We saw enormous crowds and the most perfect fall weather later in the week. The feature races leading up to Saturday were thrilling, and lucky for us, IMSA brought the WeatherTech Championship title showdowns to us here at Road Atlanta.
“The on-track action during the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans was some of the most exciting in recent memory and kept fans captivated until the moment the final checkered flag dropped. We had more hospitality and partner activation than ever before and have had an outpouring of positive feedback from our fan base. It was a wildly successful race week and we’re so thankful to our fans, the teams, IMSA and to the Road Atlanta staff for making this such a memorable one.”
A larger fan base enjoyed the action through FOX Sports live television coverage, with viewership growing as the race came down to its dramatic conclusion in the Motul Petit Le Mans. Overall in 2018, there were substantial increases in IMSA’s television audience and digital consumption.
There were 8.5 million unique television viewers of IMSA programming throughout 2018, which was a 10 percent year-over-year increase. Digitally, there were 1.6 million hours of live video streaming on IMSA.com, the IMSA Mobile App and the FOX Sports GO app, representing a 25 percent increase year-over-year.
IMSA.com saw 5.6 million total visitors to IMSA.com through the 2018 season finale, which was a 32 percent increase year over year. And IMSA’s social media channels saw a 10 percent year-over-year increase in fan engagement via likes, comments and shares.
It’s anticipated this positive momentum will carry over into 2019, which kicks off – as always – with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on the last weekend in January. There’s already positive momentum for that event – which kicks off IMSA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration – as well.
Infield parking for the race is already sold out, with a limited amount of camping still available. Fans who have purchased or will purchase Rolex 24 At Daytona tickets will be admitted free to the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona (Jan. 4-6), which will feature WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge testing as well as a three-hour IMSA Prototype Challenge race. Tickets for the Rolex 24 are available now at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
Other highlights of the upcoming season include the introduction of IMSA’s new U.S. television partner, NBC Sports, and a new official tire partnership with Michelin. Both are kicking off multi-year partnerships with IMSA next year.
And speaking of Michelin and partnerships, Road Atlanta will become “Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta” on January 1, 2019.
“With our exciting Michelin track entitlement and new Michelin Tower announcement, we’re looking forward to delivering an even better experience to fans teams and personnel next year to help celebrate IMSA’s 50th Anniversary,” Lee said.