TRG Enters Two Aston Martins for GTD

Photo: Darren Pierson

Photo: Darren Pierson

TRG-AMR is set to be on the grid next year as a two-car effort, having entered a pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT3s for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

The Kevin Buckler-led squad ordered a second FIA GT3-spec Vantage a few weeks ago and expects to have both cars for the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5.

“A two-car program is super important for us,” Buckler told Sportscar365. “It’s the way we function and the way we share and learn. The series would also love to see a couple of Astons on the track, as I’m sure the fans would too. We have an awful lot of Porsches [in the GTD class]. It’s important for the diversity.”

While the team’s driver lineup has yet to be announced, Buckler confirmed the first car has already been finalized, while he’s received a recent splurge of interest for the second Aston due to the possibility of some full-season entry requests being turned away.

“The last few days, with the combination of the testing and the fact that… I think the GTD class will be oversubscribed, that will take some of the single-car entries off the radar and won’t have a home,” he said. “Several of those people have been calling us in the last 24 hours, wondering what we’re doing.”

TRG tested James Davison, Kevin Estre and David Block at both the official TUDOR Championship tests at Sebring and Daytona last week, with the team having stayed in Florida for additional track time at the 3.7-mile airfield circuit this past weekend with a host of other prospective drivers.

Buckler anticipates driver announcements to come in the next two weeks.

18 Comments

  1. Tim

    November 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

    A teams second car should not replace a teams first car.

    • Kevin

      November 25, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Can’t say I agree. I’d much rather have two Aston Martins or a second BMW than a ninth Porsche.

      • Bakkster

        November 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        Hard to give absolutes, but I think I agree with Kevin. I definitely think diversity of cars and strength and dependability of teams should get precedence if space runs out. I’d rather a team with solid financials run two cars all season under a unique marquee than give their second slot to the fifth team running a Porsche who is still trying to scare up sponsors.

        • Hedgey

          November 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          Totally. The last thing the series needs is an internal Porsche Cup. That already exists in the IMSA GT3 Porsche Cup thing.

    • Steve

      November 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      So that I understand correctly – With the field capped and at capacity, if a team that committed a car on Day 1 then decides to enter a second while the list is full but within the entry deadline, the team that joined later but during the proper time-frame can get bumped and excluded?

      You’ve got to have diversity and the grid can’t be all Porsches, but this seems high-handed and potentially manipulative.

      • Bakkster

        November 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        I don’t think anyone has had their entry confirmed, seems planning ahead for the contingency.

  2. Pierre

    November 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

    At this point GTD could run it’s own series with so many cars. American GT3 anyone? Or is that baton taken up by Pirelli WC?

  3. KJ Maxwell

    November 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I could argue on either Tim’s or Kevins side on the issue of whom should allowed to run in GTD (IF there is indeed a cap of 20 entries-hopefully not), but instead will suggest that Pierre has the best answer, at least for the long term. Anyway, I say all of the GTD’s should be granted a spot. There should be room at the big tracks, as I mentioned in response to the Level 5 Two car Ferrari team news.

    Perhaps we will soon see a N.American Blancpain GT Sprint and GT Endurance series come about from the WC guys if there isn’t room for all the GTD/GT3 cars that want to enter the USCC.Half a dozen street races and four or five long distance events would be perfect,IMO. How about a 24 Hours of Road America as the crown jewel of such a series? Just as Spa has become more interesting to me than LeMans, I could get pretty enthused about seeing 40 or 50 GT cars at Elkhart Lake come 2015.

    BTW-Did I mention that I think that GT3 rocks? Cost effective for competitors, yet they are very cool cars that people can relate and aspire to, unlike the P classes. It has proven itself viable for the long term as well as “New Fan” and corporate partner friendly as it is easy to understand. Plus, have you seen some of the finishes at the GT sprint races?…

    Can you imagine being in a sponsor pitch for a P2 program?
    “We are running an LMP2 Honda against a few other LMP2 cars, but no LMP1’s as they are not legal in the USCC because only two showed up when it was the American LeMans Series. There will also be a few Daytona Prototypes at Daytona and hope to beat all of the cars in the unified P Class at next years the 24 Hours. However, we cant win the LeMans 24 Hours because will be in the secondary, or LMP2, prototype class at LeMans. LMP1 is the top class, hence the name LMP1 and they are still legal there, even if only a handful enter. Also, LMP2 is a Pro Am class at the LeMans 24 so we will bring in an amateur driver to drive your car, but he will pay us to drive which will lower your investment Mr.Sponsor…Of course that’s assuming we even get invited to be in the race after submitting our entry.”

    By the time you are done the guy is asleep. Sports car racing needs to be less bureaucratic and easier to follow. GT3 is that. I doubted Ratel when he said that it would become big.He was right and I am glad to have been wrong.

    In Blancpain GT a Pro Am team could in theory win the race overall, but if they can beat factory supported pros they can still win the Pro Am Cup. That makes more sense than GTE-Pro and GTE-Am in the WEC. Of course GTE/LM makes no sense to me at all, especially for gentlemen racers, given the cost to value ratio.

    The only thing I wonder about with an all GT3 series would be if there were no longer arguments over DP vs LMP that people would soon argue mid or rear engine vs front engine and if the BMW Z4 GT3 should be legal….

    The good news is that while I had thought it would be just one GTD Aston, two is what KB has entered. Assuming that there is room at the inn, the more GTD cars the better,IMO.

    • Jack

      November 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      but gt3 is a customer based series that does not allow factory teams, so we loose the best gt teams which are the factories themselves. thats why gt+ and gt in 2016 will be perfect, but until then, everything is going the to stay the same.

      • KJ Maxwell

        November 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

        I guess I just don’t see things in GT as you do,Jack.

        While GT3 cars were aimed by Ratel at wealthy gentlemen racers, it’s not like there aren’t heavily factory supported efforts in the Blancpain GT that have all top line pro drivers behind the wheel at the front of the grid. The leading R8 Audi teams may be privateers. Most if not all of the tab is being picked up by VAG.

        Most of the privateer entered cars in Blancpain are racing for a win in Pro Am, not purely amateur Gentleman’s Cup. While there might a slowish amateur driver paying the bills these guys usually have a pair of capable professionals who, while running for the Pro Am Cup,could in theory win overall. Well over two thirds of the grid have hired guns, so it is not like most GT3 races are simply amateur events while ACO’s GTLM is professional GT racing because of in house factory teams.

        Full factory efforts are what kills sport car racing. I have seen LeMans all but collapse three separate eras due to it being too expensive. Are you old enough to remember the entry LeMans in 92 or 93? It was Ratel and his BPR associates filled up the grid with GT cars in 93 or they would have only had about 20 cars total, just like the previous year.

        The ACO/ALMS 2.0 GTLM rules are much more costly and only a handful of factory teams can afford it. Meanwhile GTD is overflowing with tons of quality entrants. Many with at least some level of factory support, including pros paid by the manufacturer. That said, I do hope the Tudor ALMS 2.0 lets all the cars in GTD race and that next year they have Pro and Pro Am or allow full pro line ups while offering a Pro-Am trophy.

        The GT America is a good deal for those teams who wanted to buy a new car, but not too much fun for those who had invested how much in the Porsche they had. Since last gen Porsche 911’s and any tube frame cars were being obsoleted I think a better idea would have been to have allowed full GT3 cars, just like the PWC did. Though costing more than a GT America in the short term, a full GT3 car can be raced all over the world and in turn has many more potential buyers if you decide you want a Ferrari 458,instead.

        As far as new GT3/GTLM rules in 2016, we will see what happens.
        I don’t know if things will really change much. I’d bet Blancpain GT and the many national series for GT3 will continue to prosper while the GTE/GTLM class will still be too expensive for what it is. Besides, Ferrari,Audi, Porsche, McLaren and the SRO have rejected the GT rules ideas proposed by the ACO. Right now it’s still unclear what will happen. Those ACO guys could break an anvil, while Ratel is a businessman who gets it. Thankfully because of his leadership GT3 doesn’t have the boom or bust (sometimes just bust) nature of LeMans and the WEC. Fortunately he wants little or nothing to do with his fellow Frenchmen at either the ACO or the FIA. That’s part of why I have respect for him.

        Some may think of LeMans as being all that, but a few overpriced cars in several classes, even if they were all factory efforts, does nothing for me. Blancpain GT has just as many pro drivers, is almost as fast and much more affordable for all concerned,be it factory efforts or gentlemen drivers.

        Unless something awful changes things, Blancpain GT, with a less rocky past and a more secure future, is the series I would invest my hopes in for GT racing.

        PS-
        Fun fact:that Bentley weighs over 5100 pounds in road trim. One of the few mistakes the SRO has made is allowing these tanks into a GT supercar series.

        One of the other dumb moves is the Z4 GT3. I keep trying to find a V8 powered Z4 at my local BMW store but they never have them in stock…

        • jack

          November 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm

          my only reply is le mans 1998

    • Bakkster

      November 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      I suppose the question is whether teams just want to race GT3s in an IMSA sanctioned series, or if they want to race the Rolex 24, Sebring 12, etc. To put it more simply, would every team (or more accurately, rich gentleman driver) interested in racing a GT3 do so in their own unique series, or is the GTD interest purely because they want to race TUSC?

      I’m definitely interested to see World Challenge’s grids, now that they have an amateur trophy for GT as well. Could be a good indicator. If drivers are for it, I’d love to see that, with the limited entries still for the TUSC rounds to keep grids as close to capacity as possible. You could even make it so only the top GT3 teams got invites to TUSC. Want to race the big events? Win the GT3 Endurance Series. Sadly, funding would probably be the difficult part, there.

      I’m still not holding out hope for bigger grids, certainly not for the whole season.

      • KJ Maxwell

        November 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        Good points,Bakkster. Not sure, but racing Daytona and Sebring are probably the draw. It will interesting to see who is in PWC.

        How much needs to be done to change a car from GTD spec back to GT3 spec? That could have some impact on who is in PWC.

        It would be ideal to be able to buy a 458 GT3, race it at the 36 Hours of Florida, run it at St.Pete and the other PWC events and then finish up the year at either Macau or Baku.

        • Bakkster

          November 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

          More needs to be done to switch cars between specs than is worth it (one team said they’d just keep different chassis for the two series), especially with the spec ECU.

          I certainly hope when we get GT+/GT that we see exactly what you mention, a GT class that runs everywhere with no more than a restrictor, ballast, and/or ride height tweak. More cars on the grids everywhere, and more races to amortize the costs of a chassis across.

          • KJ Maxwell

            November 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm

            Thanks. That’s what I thought.

            Though one could change back from GTD to GT3 if you wanted to sell your car to a PWC (or Blancpain GT,GT Open or ELMS team) it clearly wouldn’t be cost effective to make changes as needed to run both USCC and PWC.

            Why they didn’t just make GTD for full on GT3 cars is beyond me. USCC made most of the existing G/A GT cars (except the GT3 cars already in the class running to the old rules) obsolete so why not get on exactly on the same page as everyone else starting with the 2014 season?

  4. Jack

    November 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    this is why the gt america made so much sense, because if they didnt make a new porsche then gtd would have 50 entries from porsche teams.

  5. Anthony

    November 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    A well funded private team can do quite a bit more with ONE GT3 car than anybody else can do.

    You can get factory support. IE, access to factory drivers. That is saving quite a bit of money but drivers and teams are not fond of disclosing what they pay.

    Data from a few years ago is in the low six digit range.

    That alone would cover the majority of entry fees…. Anyway there are several GT3 based Championships; as per usual the US is late to the party and PWC has fully adopted FIA GT3 cars AS-IS.

    TUSCS had to protect its “legacy” partner from both series, Porsche, so the car that was on the drawing board for Grand Am 2.0 after launching the 3rd gen DP was the 911 America since teams were already making these Grand Am specific modifications on their own.

    This is why you’re going to see spec wrings and removal of various items from GT3 cars and they will be slower than the PWC and don’t me that BS about spreading the classes out, its unfounded.

    Because of this GT-D is majority Porsche and its lower cost of purchase, even if used GT3 cars go for over 300K.

    Turner bought two ex-Marc VDS cars.

  6. KJ Maxwell

    November 27, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Thanks for the info about Porsche. It all makes sense now.

    That spreading the classes excuse for GTD being slower is indeed B.S.

    Why did some, mostly ALMS types, get so worked up over the cars in different classes running over one another?

    The average going rate for any pro in any class of car at Daytona is about 15K. It hasn’t increased in the 15 years since I did my first negotiation for a driver. 10k is typical for Sebring and PLM. So don’t think your hero has it made. It’s a simple case supply and demand.

    Part of what I love about GT3 is the support you can pick up from the factory. Pro drivers, tech help, and set ups are of great benefit to teams. You don’t usually have that when racing something like a P car.

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