After conquering the P1 category in 2013, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is set for an expansion into the GT ranks in next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, while also returning with a top-flight prototype program.
In a Sportscar365 exclusive, team owner Greg Pickett confirmed that plans for a multi-faceted sports car program are in the works, which would see the two-time ALMS champions likely increase its operation into a multi-class effort.
“We’re going to expand the operation in some very exciting and interesting ways,” Pickett told Sportscar365. “One of the things I’m really working hard on is positioning our race team for the long term. I’ll have to take different opportunities at different times, but it’s positive and worthwhile to build that base.”
One of those areas is to move into the GT ranks for 2014. Pickett confirmed he’s been in discussions with three different European-based GT3 manufacturers on the potential of homologating a car to ACO GTE specification, in order for it to run in the GT Le Mans class.
While he would not disclose which manufacturers, it’s understood all three brands are not currently represented in either ALMS or GRAND-AM. However, getting the car approved for competition, even with weight and air restrictor adjustments, has been the hold up, according to Pickett.
“We were trying to get something done but the players that are currently in GT, there’s been a gentleman’s agreement between them and this sanctioning body where they all have to agree if they are going to give someone a waiver to help them get in the game,” Pickett said.
“I don’t have any difficultly with that. But the fact of the matter is that if it’s a rule that doesn’t affect the overall performance or the lap time of a real nice GT3 variant that everybody has… And myself as an entrant and a manufacturer go to them and say, ‘We’ll even be below [the class] lap time goal. We’ll take more weight and restrictor and do what we have to to get in the game. And we’ll guarantee we won’t even take [the car] to Le Mans next year.'”
Pickett said he made two trips to Europe over the last five weeks to meet with manufacturers. It’s understood they also placed a bid for Porsche’s factory GT LM program, which ultimately went to CORE autosport. While Pickett hasn’t ruled out a GT Daytona program, he said it would have to be a fully funded manufacturer-based effort.
For now, Pickett has his sights set on the GT LM class. It’s believed he has also spoken to existing GTE manufacturers, although he declined to comment when asked.
“I really do feel that they want to cast a very wide net,” Pickett said of the TUDOR Championship’s manufacturer representation. “They are going to embrace the world of manufacturers. They see the value in that for the racing fan, the series and the manufactures. It checks all of the right boxes.”
With its HPD ARX-03c P1 car becoming obsolete in America next year, Pickett said a P2 option would be “easy to assume,” although he would not elaborate any further.
He did confirm, however, that Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr have been re-signed for 2014. An IndyCar program for 2014 has been ruled out.
Pickett said he expects to finalize their sports car plans within the next week to 10 days, while also committing to next month’s pre-season tests at Sebring and Daytona “in some configuration.”
“I think it should be concluded by that time,” he said. “All of the parties are trying very hard to get that done. We’ve come to an agreement and we’ve been underway on [the paperwork]. It’s multi-faceted, so you can see why it’s complex and takes some time.”