Bryan Herta Autosport is now at the “size and scale” of a top-flight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship effort according to team owner Bryan Herta.
The Hyundai squad, which expanded into a six-car TCR operation this year in Michelin Pilot Challenge, has the infrastructure in place to take on new programs, with Herta not hiding ambitions of ultimately ending up in IMSA’s top series.
He said the off-season expansion from previously running four Hyundai TCR entries “hasn’t been easy” with the addition of two new Hyundai Elantra N TCRs, including one for Roberts Wickens, although it’s allowed for the team to make key staff additions.
“We’re always challenging ourselves to do more,” Herta told Sportscar365.
“We looked at adding a car for this year. But when we really looked at it, once you add another truck and equipment, it’s really more sensible to add two than it is to add one, just from an economy of scale standpoint.
“When we started looking at adding a car for Robert Wickens, we figured if we’re adding one, we should really add two. That’s really where we ended up at six.”
Despite the move from four to six cars, the operation of the team has remained relatively unchanged.
“Phil Howard remains our team manager, as he has,” said Herta. “Obviously we’ve had to instill some layers.
“Nate Smola, who has been with us for a very long time, has taken more responsibility. Don Oldenberg, who is very expansive, has taken on more responsibility in the shop.
“Our crew chiefs are taking more individual responsibility for the cars.
“We didn’t try and run six cars with four cars’ worth of people and trucks. We’ve staffed up appropriately.
“It really comes down to having good people and we’re really fortunate to have some very, very good people that make it possible for us to be able to do this.”
While Herta said “never say never” on further expansion within the TCR ranks, he envisions more customer Hyundais instead of in-house cars in the future.
Despite BHA being the only North American team to run the Elantra N TCRs, Herta said they are available to customers alongside the Veloster N TCR.
“I don’t plan or expect or see ourselves running more cars, if anything potentially less cars,” he said.
“I think six is as many as we would want to run. For us to reduce our cars, we’d want to see other teams that step up and run Hyundais.
“We wouldn’t want to see a reduced Hyundai fleet. I’d be happy for other people to run cars.
“CB Motorsports has been out and I think we’ll see it quite a few times this year. Obviously Van der Steur has been very, very competitive this year.
“There’s certainly teams out there running Hyundais and doing a good job. We want to continue to support that and really encourage that.”
BHA Ready to Support WeatherTech Championship Program
Herta said the team is now capable of running an effort in IMSA’s top series, although said it’s up to Hyundai if the Korean manufacturer were to commit to a North American program beyond TCR.
Rumors of a Hyundai LMDh effort have gone quiet in recent months, although there’s still believed to be interest, as well as potentially other sports car racing platforms.
“Even though we’re running TCR cars, our team is really now at a size and scale that’s on par with some of the bigger WeatherTech [Championship] teams,” said Herta.
“We’ve always said that we’re open to doing other things and doing things in WeatherTech. We’re now at a place where we could absorb any type of program without too many major disruptions.
“I don’t want to speak for Hyundai but right now our priority is Hyundai. If they wanted to race in other categories we would certainly want to be the ones to help support that in the U.S.”
When asked if he envisions a new program potentially coming online in the short or long-term, Herta Hyundai has made “large commitments” that have been focused on “long-term” goals.
“Anything we do, we’d want to do it with a long-term goal in mind,” he said.
“The things that Hyundai have done in motorsport recently, I think you’ve seen they’ve made large commitments that they’ve played out over many years.”