Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, LAP Motorsports owner Luis Perocarpi tells us about bringing MINI to IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the highlight of the team’s involvement in the series, and more.
What attracted you and your team to the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge?
“I’d always wanted to put together a race team and one of my goals was to be in road racing. It was always going to be in IMSA in some way, I wasn’t sure what at that time. IMSA has always been where I wanted to be.
“When we came together with MINI USA and they wanted to go racing professionally, I was putting together the team. We decided that Continental Tire Challenge was the place to be.
“It was really dependent on sponsorship at that moment and MINI USA was my main supporter and partner, so the commercial value of the series was number one.”
What are you biggest highlights from the time spent racing in Continental Tire Challenge?
“The first podium at the end of our first year at Road Atlanta. We were a first-year team with a car that was brand-new from MINI.
“Nobody had any data. There was nothing available so it was originally built in our shop by us. Once we got our second place in Atlanta in 2015, it was a huge achievement with everything that we had been through.”
How gratifying was it to have success with a car that you helped to develop?
“It’s been huge for us because, for me personally, I’m a hardcore racer. I’m passionate about cars and the spirit of competition. To show up with a race team in a professional environment, it was amazing.
“The car was built basically by me and my friend and partner Rob Ridgley who is our lead engineer. The car was built by us. We now have the most succesful production-based MINI in the world.
“If you look at the heritage of MINI, that’s what it was founded on back in the early 60’s when MINI won the Monte Carlo Rally with the production class MINI. They did it back-to-back and came back and did it a couple of years later back-to-back.
“For us in the modern times, to have a production-based care in IMSA and be succesful at it is a tremendous achievement and I think the whole MINI world knows that. It’s awesome to add to MINI’s legacy.”
What do you think your team’s legacy in the ST class will be?
“I think as race cars evolve, classes evolve, car production evolves, the ST cars are obviously now old technology.
“It’s going to be really cool if we can continue to win a couple more races, hopefully battle for a manufacturers championship, and end the ST era with MINI on the very high side of things.
“It’s super important this year to finish it off and hopefully get another win or two in the last few races if possible.”
What has Continental Tire’s influence on your team been?
“For our team, it’s given us credibility as a race team. We’ve been very competitive from the beginning and obviously we’d love to stay in professional racing for the long term.
“Continental for sure has helped to put us on the map as a serious, professional race team. That has opened up opportunities for the future. For us, it was the right move as a team.
“We were lucky that we created a partnership with MINI USA and we obviously look to continue that partnership somewhere else, but for LAP Motorsports some day we would like to be in one of the classes in the WeatherTech Championship.”