Exclusive: Muscle Milk Set for Expansion, Finalizing GT Program

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

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.”

33 Comments

  1. David

    October 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

    YES!

  2. Bakkster

    October 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Excellent news! Here’s hoping they get the deal done. Always great to see a new manufacturer in GT.

  3. Joe

    October 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

    So the manufacturers that come to mind are Lambo, McLaren, the new Bentley, or maybe Mercedes SLR. Any others i missed?

    • Ben

      October 19, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Could be Audi as well!

      • Hedgey

        October 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

        Not Audi as they are currently in Grand-Am. I think the McLaren is probably the most likely option of those mentioned.

        • Ben

          October 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

          Ah! You’re right, sorry my bad!

  4. NaBUru38

    October 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Lambo or McLaren! :drool:

    Actually, the most sensible options are Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

  5. Justin

    October 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

    McLaren would be cool but I thought they’d be going for the new NSX given the HPD connection.

    • Jason

      October 19, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Picket has run Porsches, Aston Martins, and Hondas in recent years. I think he looks for the best deal. He does not seem to be a manufacturer loyalist.

      • Ben

        October 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        Yeah I think they go with what they think is quickest. After seeing Porsche dominate in LMP2 in 2007 and 2008 they bought an RS Spyder. When the P1 and P2 rules changed they went to a Lola Aston Martin because it was the best they had until HPD (who had beaten them while they ran the Porsche) made their car available to customers.

        Plus, I don’t think the NSX will be available until around 2017 when the GTE and GT3 rulebooks will change.

        • Justin

          October 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm

          Good points, I forgot about that.

          As an aside, I recall an interview with Ted Klaus stating they want the NSX racing at or before it’s official release. Not sure where that would be though.

  6. Jason

    October 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Thank goodness its not the Delta Wing!

  7. John R

    October 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Rumor has it the Lizards have been chasing Audi after losing their Porsche bid.

    • Ben

      October 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Doubt it. I think Audi will go with a two car Alex Job Racing team. I’m pretty sure FLM will run a two car Porsche team.

      • Speed Captured

        October 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        Flying Lizard to Audi has been regarded as a sure thing in the ALMS paddock for some time now.

      • Dave Clark

        October 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        Nope, AJR is running two Porsche 991′s in GTD next year.

        • Ben

          October 20, 2013 at 8:16 pm

          Really? Definitely didn’t know this. Thought it would be the other way round. Thanks for the news! Two cars for both teams?

  8. Marc

    October 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Currently a GT3 spec car is unrealistic as an option for 2014 because the new GT rules will be released in 2016,which means it is very difficult to ask manufactures to turn a GT3 into GTE spec,that is wasting money.

    My guess is one of the brands they already have contact may be Aston Martin.This is the only brand not running in north america this year meanwhile valid on the grid for the next year.In fact AM has left the winning car of COTA in the US for the test in November.It is highly possible that Muscle Milk team will take the chance to take a serious look or even a ride.

    • Ben

      October 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      TRG already has a contract with Aston Martin Racing to run two GT3 based V12 Vantages in the GTD class. My best guess is a Mercedes SLS as Klaus Graf raced one at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring and they have had quite a bit of success this year.

  9. Jason

    October 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    The car caps will be an issue now. I don’t think GTD teams will be able to field 2 cars with so many teams. I’m starting to think some Prototype teams won’t get 2 cars in. I’m worried too that Aston Martin and AF Corse might be left out.

    I am really hoping that the LMPC cap goes down to 8 giving those 2 spots to GTLM increasing that to 14.

    • jack

      October 20, 2013 at 3:02 am

      dont forget gtd will be pro am, so some teams might leave because as of right now they dont have amatuer driver on there squad, they have 2 pros

    • Dave Clark

      October 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      There will be 2 car GTD teams.

  10. Mac

    October 20, 2013 at 6:57 am

    A Mclaren in the Muscle Milk livery would look awesome

  11. Ben

    October 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Whatever class, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing deserves a ticket to Le Mans. World Class team.

  12. Matt

    October 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Please be Mercedes.

    • oppositelock

      October 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Trouble with converting the SLS GT3 to GTLM is that Mercedes has already said that the ABS cannot be removed or the engine won’t run, the electronics are too integrated. I doubt it will Mercedes they run but who knows.

  13. Tim

    October 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Nissan GT-R GT3 please!!

    Or Mclaren…..Lambo has a GTE spec Gallardo already. Thats a possibility

  14. Pingback: Muscle Milk Goes With Oreca-Nissan for 2014 - Sportscar365

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