Andretti Autosport Calls Off Proposed Prototype Program

Photo: IndyCar

Photo: IndyCar

Andretti Autosport is unlikely to expand into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year, after an attempt to field a pair of HPD ARX-04b cars has fallen through.

Team boss Michael Andretti confirmed the news Sunday morning at the Milwaukee Mile, site of today’s Verizon IndyCar Series race.

“It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. It unfortunately fell through, so we’re a little disappointed with that,” Andretti said about the team’s proposed re-entry into sports car racing.

While having been part of the factory Acura LMP2 program in the American Le Mans Series in 2007-08, the Indianapolis-based team had been working towards a return to prototype competition with HPD’s new closed-top P2 car.

It’s unclear on the exact reason for the program not going forward but is believed to be budget-related.

Andretti Autosport’s no-go leaves a significant question mark over the size of the P2 grid in the TUDOR Championship next year, with both the front-running Extreme Speed Motorsports and OAK Racing squads having yet to confirm 2015 programs.

While ESM has committed to the four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup next year, the Scott Sharp-owned squad could contest select rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship in lieu of a full season in the States.

The France-based OAK squad, meanwhile, may also not return depending on the level of customer interest and sales of its Morgan and Ligier LMP2 cars in the U.S.

It’s understood that OAK’s parent company, Onroak Automotive, is close to finalizing the sale of a Ligier JS P2 to Krohn Racing, but that too would only likely run the TPNAEC rounds.

While both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have expressed interest in expanding into the Prototype class with P2-based machinery, a green light has yet to be given on either programs, which are also dependent on outside funding.

Tony DiZinno contributed to this article

49 Comments

  1. Tarek R.

    August 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Very sad news no doubts. Was looking forward to see them to top level sportscar racing.

    IndyCar + Global Rallycross + Tudor Championship, too much for a team?

    • Doug

      August 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Aren’t they also in the all electric series?

      • Tarek R.

        August 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

        Yep, Formula-E as well. Forgot to mention it.

  2. Pat

    August 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    There’s the first one. By PLM I would be surprised to see any IndyCar teams remaining in the HPD derby.

    • Jim-ski

      August 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

      We’ll have to see what happens to SPM now. Hopefully, they can make it work. Will be great to see Simon P. in a P2 car.

  3. Issac

    August 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    No Andretti, ESM only having committed to the NAEC and only due to sponsership and Oak likely to disappear if the sell a customer car to krohn who will be on a part time probably the NAEC schedule as and no word any other P2s. Next years full season Prototype roster could feature 5 to 6 DPs and the 2 Mazdas. Add to that the number of GTD teams likely to leave to PWC where they can run full spec GT3 and next years grid looks like its going to shrink big time.

  4. Dan

    August 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    The series may have shot it self in the foot big time with blatant favoring of the DPs in the P Class and the refusal to allow full spec GT3 cars in the series until 2016. If things don’t improve soon 2015 wont be any better a year for endurance racing in North America than this year.

  5. Bert walsh

    August 17, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Sounds like the p2 class is dead for 2015 and beyond in north america can blame that on the france family for killing another series off in north america so they ca run there dp only in prototype class as they wish and with the sounds of some gtd teams going to pwc it wont be long before the series is dead all together, like i said thanks france family killing another great series off so there nascar series will survive all the france family cares about is nascar and the hell with any other form of racing, never trust the france family ever.

    • mimi69

      August 17, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      Dan the P2 class was dead in North America years ago. The ALMS had to get their series sponsor to leave GTLM and move to P2 last year for there to even be a single P2 car running. In previous years level 5 had ran without any other full season competition in P2 and refused to do so last year. .

      • mimi69

        August 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        Sorry typo that was meant to be in response to the uninformed crap written by Bert walsh. Just ignore the fact that USCR has all but officially announced that it will be adopting ACO P2 prototype for 2017 and beyond. Why allow little things like facts get in the way of an irrational rant? USCR will be ALMS 2.0 by 2017, IMSA has all but decided that fact. France family hasn’t done anything to the series. It has been ran 100% completely by IMSA and it’s bunch of keystone cops.

        • Travis

          August 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

          Yeah run by the “same” IMSA they love the P2s so much thats why the DPs have almost every advantage and the P2s are barely competitive. If you think NASCAR has no influence on whats happening in the series then i have some beach front property in Idaho id like to sell you.

      • slowstang

        August 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm

        Strong troll is strong.

        Level 5 ran last year with two cars along side ESM, plus a few others showed up to select races like Sebring.

        Year before that Conquest Racing ran a Oak Morang against 2 level 5 cars and the Dempsey P2 with select appearances by international cars.

        If it weren’t for the Spec tire and laughably appalling BOP you would have International cars running Daytona, Sebring, and Petite. Both Greaves and Millinium were at Sebring this year testing the same week of the race and packed up and left to go testing else where.

        • Bakkster

          August 18, 2014 at 8:46 am

          Yes, 4 P2s last year, 3 and two partials in 2012 (only topped 4 in a race once, and that was for Project Libra). In 2010 Level 5 was the only team running a cost-capped P2.

          So no, the P2 class hasn’t been all that strong for a while, with almost all the European entries in those ‘select’ races being ILMC rounds.

          • Jeff Braun

            August 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm

            2010 Level 5 ran LMPC but your right in 2011 we ran by ourself in IMSA and also for the ILMC selected rounds because there was no one to race in the US….shame.

          • Bakkster

            August 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

            Thanks for the correction, Jeff! That was a typo, 2010 was before the cost-cap in P2, so you still had the ARX-01c and RS Spyder.

    • Bakkster

      August 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Too early to call the series dead. Way too early. We’re still stuck with the leftovers of the previous series, we’ll see what we get in 2016 and 2017 when the class structure gets revised (including an all-P2 top class, let’s not forget).

      They need to keep as many teams around until then (and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some run elsewhere with plans to return in 2017, either) but come 2017 they’ll probably be one of the best situated.

      • Doug

        August 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

        Personally I think they made a bad decision by giving DP’s 3 more years of life. Older P2’s would probably have been grandfathered in with the FIA/ACO at LeMans and those DP owners probably would of SAVED money by purchacing the P2 cars last year over running old DP equipment…but hey…I’m not in charge so…

        • JohnRamella

          August 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

          It wasn’t “old” DP equipment. This is year 1 of the Ford Ecoboost. This is year 3 for the Corvette Prototypes – a big investment from the owners and the manufacturers. Piss off GM? Yeah… great idea.

        • Bakkster

          August 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

          It seemed to come down to the bad timing of the merger being announced in the first year of the Gen 3 DPs, and the current OEMs (Ford and Chevy) not having P2 engine programs (or at least not mature ones if you count the Ford).

          Hindsight is 20/20, the decision may have been different if they knew how much the performance upgrades would overrun on costs and the safety issues we’d see throughout the season (flips at Daytona, then the Gainsco and Marsh injuries). But getting back to the mindset from 2012 it made more sense.

  6. mimi69

    August 17, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Looks as if another of the long line of projected P2 cars which were to materialize out of thin air just didn’t materialize. Every year same thing. Predictions of record P2 car counts never materialize. The boy has cried P2 too many times.

  7. SGG

    August 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Too bad, let’s hope the other two materialize. I don’t see any of the idle DPs returning, and if there are no new P2s, the field might begin looking a bit anemic. Funding is apparently getting hard to come by – a situation that likely lies behind some of the possible GTD defections to the considerably cheaper PWC as well.

    • Bakkster

      August 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Of course PWC is cheaper, it’s a sprint series that doesn’t need a pit crew. Less time on track, fewer drivers, and a smaller crew (which may mean layoffs if they leave TUDOR altogether).

      2016 will be beneficial to use the same aero package, I expect a number of teams running select rounds in both series.

  8. 37

    August 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Why am I not surprised? See I knew this was gonna happen….Thanks Nasacar!

  9. N8

    August 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I’m interested to the hear the details of why this really fell through.

    I agree with mimi69 that, it’s far too common to hear grand LMP2 plans fall apart, across all series. If teams with cars, drivers and sponsors can be forced to withdraw DURING the season, then we simply can’t get excited about the promise of a 2 car effort 6 months down the road.

  10. Helmut

    August 18, 2014 at 9:50 am

    What does thie mean for the six HPD cars then? Two have been sold to ESM, but what about the two cars for which they had stated to have a verbal agreement? Was this Andretti?

  11. Steven

    August 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Who wants to play second fiddle to the DP’s…IMSA has done nothing to equalize the cars anymore, a P2 car was 3 seconds a lap faster at Road America last year compared to the DP’s and were .5 seconds/lap slower than the DP’s this year.

    They have killed this series, I am one fan that will not comeback until the DP’s are gone and an actual Prototype class in in place. I’ll just stick to european racing for my joys of sportscar racing.

    • Bakkster

      August 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Careful using laptimes, because Dalziel got the pole in a P2 at Road America. It’s getting the cars to race wheel to wheel that has been the issue, the final laptimes are close but depending on them misses the real issue.

      See you in 2017, then.

  12. jc

    August 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Sorry haters, this is all about funding funding funding. Andretti isn’t running a charity.

  13. jess

    August 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    If IMSA and the series are serious and having DP and P2 equipment then the fix is not that difficult. Reduce the HP and torque of the DPs.and either allow a different spec tire or tire warmers for P2.

    Under the current conditions why will anyone spend a million dollars on a P2 car knowing they may only have a 10-15 percent chance of winning. The odds do not justify the expendure in most sponsors opinion.

    • DougB

      August 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      The Proof will be who shoes up for Daytona. How many P2 cars will be there (and I’m not counting engineering experiments like the Delta Wing and Mazda diesel)

      • N8

        August 18, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Do P2 car counts at Daytona all hinge on how the balance looks over these final 2 races?

        What happens to the DP diffuser @ Daytona? Does it come back off again? BOP straight out the window if it does.

        • Bakkster

          August 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm

          And LM24 aero for the P2s. Daytona is always an oddball with broken BoP, this year (and likely next year) are no exception.

    • Bakkster

      August 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Of course, you do that and the P2s will just continue to run away with the race like they did at MRLS and CTMP. More grip for the P2s isn’t the answer (faster warm up, maybe), it’s the DPs that need to match their grip to P2s and then have their power brought back down so their corner exit and top speed are closer to P2 levels (if the increased drag of more aero isn’t enough).

      I’d put the odds closer to 25% on P2 wins with the current BoP (see above two tracks, plus half and half at Sebring which they almost won with less favorable BoP). As for buying now, it means a head start in getting to grips with the P2 coupes now before 2017 to have a leg up. Though the business case is as much in the air because of any uncertainty of how long the current coupes will be eligible as it is over BoP.

  14. Jeff Wagner

    August 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Dan, Bert walsh, Travis, Doug, 37, You are all right. BUT, in 2017 those “DP POSER PROTOTYPES” will be gone for good. that’s why they are now sold and raced team to team year after year, more than the 1983-1986 Can-Am cars! P2 will be fine. Notice how even speculation of cars running let alone confirmed teams are always thinking of/purchasing NEW P2 CARS! When has a DP team said they are buying new for 2015??????????

  15. Bobke

    August 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Is the new production of P3 cars perhaps the answer for Tudor’s prototype problem?

  16. Bert walsh

    August 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I agree that 2017 will be better but point i am trying to make is will the tudor series be around by 2017 remember if this series does take off in 2017 and becomes bigger than nascar and start taking sponsorship away from nascar teams then you will see nascar and the france family step in and kill the series off like they did when cart became big and had more sponsorship than nascar in the 90:s thats when tony george showed up who do you think helped him kill off cart you know the francr family if any other series starts to become bigger than nascar the france family puts an end to it abd if you don”t beleive it you are a fool. Don”t trust the france family at all.

  17. jess

    August 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Anyone that is seripus about 2017 needs to treat 2015 & 16 as nothing more than an exrended P2 test program. If one gets lucky and wins so be it. But having two years of U.S. data will place sny P2 team well ahead of the curve fpr 2017. The DP teams won’t purchase a P2 car. The idea of spending a million dollars for a P2 while all the DP teams cry poverty pretty well settles that issue.

    • Bakkster

      August 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I expect most of the Ford and GM teams to carry forward if those OEMs continue their semi-works involvement. Remember that they’ll probably be allowed custom bodywork on their 2017 P2 chassis in TUSC. The teams are addicted to the OEM money, not DPs themselves.

      Ganassi and Taylor both drove LMPs at Le Mans, so it’s nothing philosophical for them. AXR/Coyote plan to build a car for 2017, and Starworks has run P2s very successfully. Shank is the only one who I might consider is fundamentally opposed to anything that isn’t 100% American (DP or IndyCar). Marsh might drop back to GTD if there is a Cadillac GT3 they’d get funding to run, I don’t think they wanted to race prototypes in the first place.

      • jess

        August 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

        The problem will be if IMSA sticks with ACO rules. There is no factory assistance allowed in P2.. So any funding will go away. It is pretty well known sevetal of the DP teams live on assistance.

        • Bakkster

          August 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

          IMSA already isn’t using ACO rules (pit stops and P2s without an amateur driver), and this could be a smart deviation. And the idea has already been floated (by those involved in creating the rules) for US-only P2 bodykits.

          • jess

            August 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm

            ACO is dropping the. Pto Am. driver requirement for next year. But i think IMSA will toe the line for 2017. If not then i will be a very happy designer since my employer will open his wallet and we can have a good old fashoon arms race just like in the past.

            Just think. Spevific ateo for specific tracks. Our own engine programs. Cars built to a specific engine and gearbox. Test teams once again. Hours and hours in the tunnel and shaker. I have sone new body materials and paint to try. So i really hope IMSA goes their own wsy here. I love unlimited budgets.

        • The Brad

          August 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

          Like how Mazda doesnt fund and.campaign two.P2 cars today. Imsa has a trend of.bending the ACO rules to meet their needs.

          • jess

            August 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

            Mazda dors not matter. They don’t run for points since the diesel is not legal in P2.

  18. Jeff Wagner

    August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Bert walsh, I think the only person EVER stupid enough to trust the France family was Tony George. F.T.G.!

  19. Andy

    August 19, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Jeff Wagner, you forgot John Bishop. You know, the co-founder of IMSA (along with Bill France, Sr.). The same John Bishop, who helped John Greenwood and others preserve the very same 12 Hours of Sebring race we enjoy today. The same John Bishop who’s now in the Sebring, SCCA and many other halls of fame.

    If he’s “stupid” well….OK

  20. Andy Flinn

    August 19, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Owens-Corning was also “stupid” enough to let the France family and NASCAR manage Watkins Glen when they bought the circuit after the F1 track management outfit went bankrupt. And look what a disaster that turned out to be. (wink, wink)

  21. Jeff Wagner

    August 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Andy Flinn, Why would you tarnish the motorsports legacy of the late great John Bishop. He was a GREAT and BRILLIANT man. He knew to keep his friends close and his “enemies” even closer. He did more for Road Racing in 5 seconds than the France family has done in 5 decades. I’m wondering if you’re a former I.R.L. fan the way you jumped on my Tony George(F.T.G.)comment.

  22. Jeff Wagner

    August 19, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    If Mr. John Bishop was still running I.M.S.A. today the U.S.C.C. would NEVER be in the mess it is in now! On a regular basis P2 cars running behind “DP POSER PROTOTYPES” because of known wrong tires, and known biased B.O.P. Can’t WAIT until 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kirk

      August 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      If the series is still around in 2017. A year ago we were all excited about the huge prototype fields we’d be seeing, but only a year later we’re wondering if we’ll see 10 prototypes on the grid at Daytona in ’15. We’ve fallen pretty far in only one year. Hopefully 2015 isn’t just three or four Corvette bodied DP’s droning around. That would kill the series for sure.

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