IMSA and Cooper Tire create Cooper Tire Prototype Lights Championship

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IMSA and Cooper Tire create Cooper Tire Prototype Lights Championship

The International Motor Sports Association and Cooper Tire announced today a new partnership highlighted by the renaming of IMSA's prototype development series to the Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Championship. It will feature an expanded schedule and a points restructuring that will make one of the sanctioning body’s most competitive championships even tighter.

Cooper Tire has an established history in motorsport with involvement in a tremendous variety of series including road racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its core position as using racing to improve its passenger tire offerings lines up well with other IMSA championships including the American Le Mans Series.

“We are excited to be partnering with IMSA on the 2010 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship,” said Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tire. “Being involved with a prestigious road racing organization such as IMSA allows Cooper's research and development efforts to be showcased both on the track and on the road. Driving business back to our dealers is an integral part of our motorsports program. It’s an example of what wins on Sunday, sells on Monday.”

A two-race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ranks among the highlights of next season’s calendar, one that sees eight visits to the continent’s premier permanent road courses. All seven venues from the 2008 season return to the schedule – including Sebring, New Jersey Motorsports Park near Philadelphia, Road America, Mosport near Toronto and Road Atlanta.

To aid in developing drivers for a potential move into the American Le Mans Series, the Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Championship will feature a multi-class format – L1, L2 and L3. The premier L1 class features Elan Motorsports Technologies’ DP02 prototype powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda MP2 engine. West Racing’s WX10 and WR1000 chassis are eligible in the L2 class, powered by 1,000cc motors from Kawasaki or Suzuki. Elan's DP08 with a 2.3-liter Mazda MZR-R competes in the L3 class.

Not surprisingly, each round of the 2010 Cooper Tire Prototype Lights Championship will be held in support of the American Le Mans Series – with the exception of the June 26-27 dates at New Jersey.

The partnership with Cooper Tire also allows IMSA to continue developing new and up-and-coming road racing talent in North America for the present and the future. The Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Championship platform will play its role in accomplishing that aim for the fifth consecutive season through promotional programs such as the $500 Cooper Tire Pole Position Award to the fastest qualifier on each event weekend. Cooper also will institute a discount program for series teams to purchase passenger tires for trucks, transporters and company cars.

In addition, IMSA introduced a new wrinkle for the 2010 season. All drivers will count their best 13 races of the season toward the championship standings. The move ensures the closest and hotly contested title race the series has seen.

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