The countdown continues to the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Following yesterday’s preview of the Prototype field, Sportscar365 takes a team-by-team look at the confirmed, likely and rumored full-season entries expected for the Prototype Challenge category next year.
With IMSA capping PC to a tentative field of 10 cars for the season, the popular spec prototype ranks could be one of the most sought-after classes, particularly with gentlemen drivers not wanting to spend the considerably higher costs to race in the top Prototype class.
CORE autosport – The three-time and defending team champions are set for another go in 2014, despite its new venture as the operational partner of Porsche’s new factory GT LM program, which will be entirely separate. Team owner Jon Bennett will return to the wheel of the Oreca FLM09, with a to-be-determined co-driver. Both Colin Braun and Tom Kimber-Smith appear to be prime candidates. (1 car)
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports – After winning the drivers’ championship with Mike Guasch, the Bobby Oergel-led squad will return with at least one full-season entry. A second, brand-new PC car was ordered earlier this year, which could result in an increased effort. The team’s driver lineup has yet to be finalized, with Oergel currently taking calls from all interested drivers. More news should be known by the end of the week. (1-2 cars)
BAR1 Motorsports – Finishing a close second in the teams’ championship, the Brian Alder-led crew has its sights set again on a two-car effort. The Canadian driving duo of Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming concluded the season on a three-race win streak and could return, although not yet confirmed. The team also plans to expand to Prototype Lites, following Alder’s L2 class title from an abbreviated schedule in 2013. (2 cars)
RSR Racing – Paul Gentilozzi’s squad is pushing for a two-car operation for next year, likely to again feature some star power behind the wheel. News on the Michigan-based team’s driver lineups will be made prior to next month’s Sebring/Daytona tests. However, it’s believed that both Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende, who combined for two wins in 2013, will likely return. RSR recently put a deposit down for a second brand-new car. (1-2 cars)
Performance Tech – Following a strong season, highlighted by a win on the streets of Baltimore, the Brent O’Neill-led team will be back with a single-car entry. Charlie Shears, who combined with 17-year-old rising star Tristan Nunez for majority of the season, is the only confirmed driver so far. Nunez, meanwhile, could be tabbed for a step up to the Prototype class in 2014. (1 car)
8Star Motorsports – With increased costs to upgrade its pair of Daytona Prototypes, the Enzo Potolicchio-owned team could focus its efforts on PC next year. The team debuted its Oreca FLM09 with a strong second place run at Petit Le Mans and has an option on taking delivery of a second spec prototype from Europe. Potolicchio, the 2012 FIA WEC LMP2 champion, could be part of the driver lineup, with the Florida-based squad also looking for additional funded drivers. (1-2 cars)
Starworks Motorsport – Like 8Star, the Peter Baron-owned Starworks squad sits in a similar position with existing DP machinery, but with sights set on a PC program instead. The team made its ALMS debut at Circuit of The Americas with Alex Popow’s Oreca FLM09 and currently has two additional cars, owned by Mirco Schultis, in its Florida shop. Baron says he hopes to have two full-season entries, with the possibility of a third car for the split races. (2 cars)
Level 5 Motorsports – With a P2 program looking slim, the inaugural PC champions could return to their old stomping grounds. The Scott Tucker-owned team is currently evaluating a number of options for 2014, including a potential move to the FIA World Endurance Championship in LMP1 or a move back to the PC ranks. The team recently took delivery of three brand-new Oreca FLM09s, which could be sold or even run as customer cars depending on interest. (2 cars?)
Others – A handful of others teams have reportedly thrown their hat in, but due to the 10-entry cap, may not be given entries. European Le Mans Series squad Algarve Pro Racing had previously expressed interest, while whispers of a potential new effort from Tony Ave may or may not materialize. IMSA will likely accept entries based on seniority and past experience in GRAND-AM and/or ALMS, which could leave a few newcomers on the sidelines if the expected maximum field is reached.
Projected Totals (Full-Season only)
Confirmed Entries: 6 cars
Likely: +3-4 cars
Possible: ~2-4 additional cars