2014 Silly Season Update: Prototype Challenge

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

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.

Confirmed:

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)

Likely: 

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)

Possible:

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

13 Comments

  1. Hedgey

    October 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Still don’t understand the need for a one-make pro-am filler class now that it isn’t needed to help fill faltering fields as in the ALMS. Those ten entries would be much better used spread between the other three classes with the PC cars heading a mixed class IMSA Lite series (which would then have decent numbers of entries and be worth watching at the track.)

    • ops30

      October 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Two words…risk aversion. ALMS was rocking along in the early 2000s – 2008, then the bottom fell out when the economy went into the tank. Having a spec pro-am class for both the prototype & gt ranks provides the promise of tight competition and the allure of racing to the am class drivers with the fat wallets. Will 2008 happen again soon? Probably not, but it will happen again. Better to provide stable spec platforms as the backbone of the series to insure against waning sponsorship $$$ from advertisers and the manufacturers when things get nasty again. I just got back from Petit Le Mans and saw the PC cars up close. They are spectacular machines. Just my $.02.

      • Anthony Thomas

        October 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

        I agree, the economy will crash again because it was never fixed in the firs place, that’s why Sports Car Racing has continued uninterrupted mostly since 2009, if not expanded.

        We’ll see if Tudor has any impact on NASCAR’s stranglehold on consumer sponsorship. Sports Car and Indycar are becoming more B2B all the time.

    • Bakkster

      October 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      I do wonder what the price differential is between PC and a P2. From a spectator standpoint, I’d rather see a ‘sportsman’ pro-am class within the P2/DP ranks, rather than a whole separate PC class. But not being privy to the business side of it, I’m not sure if that is feasible.

      Personally, I’d rather see Level 5, a few PC teams, and a couple European entries in Prototype, with the remaining PC teams in races with the Lites or with the big boys where there’s room.

      • Anthony Thomas

        October 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        I rather have P2 be Pro’s only and PC be Am’s because while it adds another podium, it lessen the level of complexity already in the series.

        Seems many of the two car teams might be down to one car given the cost to upgrade. That will lead to more European entries, Greaves being first up.

        Look for Murphy Prototypes, Pecom, TDS and others to run a full series and not just the North American Endurance Championship.

        • Tim

          October 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

          It would be very nice if every teams 2nd car was accepted only if their is room after every team got at least 1 car on the grid. I agree that European teams should take 2nd priority but I believe teams with a second car should get 3rd.

        • Bakkster

          October 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

          Personally, I think it’s a lot easier to explain one set of Prototypes with a second podium for amateurs (a-la GT3 Cup) than why the one set of cars that looks the same as the other is so much slower.

          Took friends to the Baltimore race, and they understood GT3 Cup and the driver classes (one of them knew a driver in the gentleman class) a lot more than they understood the difference between P1, P2, and PC.

        • Bakkster

          October 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

          Besides, I figure a DP/P2 with TC is probably easier for the Amateurs to drive as well.

      • Ben

        October 30, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        An LMPC chassis costs about the same as an LMP2 chassis. The big difference is in the engine leases. LMPC uses a “crate” motor from GM that costs around $10,000. Where as P2 engines can be upwards of $80,000.

        I really want them to move the LMPC catagory to a separately run, support series. Would be much more fun seeing 20 something race for an hour than 8 race as a back marker class for 3 hours.

    • Matt

      October 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Yeah, really wish they would dump the PC class..

      • Anthony Thomas

        October 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        Not just yet, maybe by 2016 which is what many are saying, the cars aren’t being upgraded, status quo there. New cars are being built to the current spec.

  2. Kevin

    October 31, 2013 at 9:02 am

    What about DragonSpeed? I thought they tested at Daytona a few weeks ago?

    • John Dagys

      October 31, 2013 at 11:29 am

      The test was canceled and the car owner (Mirco Schultis) is no longer with DragonSpeed.

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