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Racing Team Nederland Targeting Daytona, Sebring LMP2 Effort

Racing Team Nederland targeting Rolex 24, Sebring 2018 program…

Photo: John Dagys

Racing Team Nederland could be the latest European team to commit to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s flagship endurance races, with the Dutch squad closing in on Prototype class effort for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The Frits van Eerd-owned organization, which made its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Rubens Barrichello in the drivers’ strength earlier this month, is looking to take its Dallara P217 Gibson Stateside for the opening two rounds of the season next year, according to team manager Mark Koense.

“It’s a plan and we want to explore doing Daytona and Sebring because in the program it would fit, particularly Daytona,” Koense told Sportscar365.

“If you take a step back and you’re in the sports car [world] and you have a car, and you can do the ‘Grand Slam’ of sports car racing, that’s at least something you should consider, and that’s something we’re doing at the moment.”

While currently focused on the remainder of the European Le Mans Series season, Koense said they have begun preliminary investigations into an WeatherTech Championship program, having met with IMSA staff at Le Mans.

The driving force behind the proposed effort, and the entire LMP2 program, is van Eerd, the CEO of the Jumbo Supermarket chain, who spent time in the U.S. before taking over one of the leading companies in The Netherlands.

The team got its first taste of the U.S. racing scene earlier this year during a week-long pre-season Dunlop tire test at Sebring, which Koense said whet their appetite for more.

“We’ve always said that Frits’ life is Jumbo Supermarkets, and then he has family and he has his racing,” Koense said.

“We were testing at Sebring, Frits studied in the States as a youngster, he loves the country. We were there on an evening and go like ‘bloody hell, if ever there was a chance to do some serious racing here.’

“A [full] championship, calendar-wise, it’s the same reason why we opted for the European Le Mans Series. FIA WEC, it’s impossible to fit into his agenda. But I’m definitely looking forward to exploring.”

Koense said they plan to return to the ELMS next year, with Le Mans again serving as the centerpiece, and a decision on its U.S. exploits to be made in the coming weeks.

Should the program get the green light, it would mark the first Gibson-powered Dallara to compete in the WeatherTech Championship, in what looks to be an already well-subscribed Prototype grid of European entries for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.

United Autosports has confirmed it will enter its Ligier JS P217 Gibson for Daytona, with Rebellion Racing set to return and TDS Racing also closing in on a potential effort for at least the opening round of the championship.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. AF

    June 29, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I wouldn’t be so sure about Rebellion returning, especially if more manufacturers come in and they’re not aligned with one. Would be good to see a properly powered Dallara in for the meaningful rounds, though it’ll never fight for wins.

    • Mike D.

      June 29, 2017 at 10:48 am

      > I wouldn’t be so sure about Rebellion returning, especially if more manufacturers come in and they’re not aligned with one

      Why, the cars are clearly balanced, you’ll remember that Jani was more than hanging with the Caddies before the electrical gremlins at Sebring. Daytona was understandable 1st race “we got it wrong.”

      IMSA usually progresses towards a good position — see the DP/P2 balancing of 2016.

    • korda

      June 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Rebellion? The only team that was able to compete with the Cadillacs before they were pegged back by the BoP?

  2. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    June 29, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    The Dallara seems to have a good top speed so Daytona might be really suitable to the chassis. They might have a good shot at doing well.

  3. GridS2plaza

    June 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    At least Euro teams are talking about coming over and running. With this chatter and chatter about more potential Dpi factory involvement I would say IMSA is off to a fair start for year 1.

    No series is perfect but I would say IMSA series is at least “half full” compared with the WEC which might be “half empty”.

    I’m a fan of both & not trying to fan the ongoing range war that seems to persist here between the series proponents.

    It just appears the outlook for growth appears tipped in IMSA’s favor particularly around NAEC events.

    • tracer

      June 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Well put.

  4. Sven Martin

    June 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    This would be awesome. It wouldn’t be an encouraging moment to see also Jackie Chan racing and doing both sides of sports car racing period not only the European circuits but also the American circuits and it would expand the fanbase

  5. jack

    June 30, 2017 at 7:12 am

    SMP is looking as well.

  6. JeffB

    July 1, 2017 at 10:28 am

    One thing that frustrates me so much is how many team express interest in only doing the Endurance Cup races in North America. So why doesn’t IMSA bump Road America out to 4 hours, 500 miles or 6 hours and make it a fifth round of the TPNAEC if it is so well received by the teams?

    There’s no reason you couldn’t add another hour and 20 minutes to the race length to give teams an opportunity to add a third driver and have another well subscribed round to the series.

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