Algarve Pro Racing principal Stewart Cox says the team is considering an expansion to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year in addition to its current European Le Mans Series involvement.
Cox told Sportscar365 that Algarve Pro is currently “working out” how it might arrange a North American program in 2022 with a pair of Oreca 07 Gibsons in the LMP2 class.
The Portuguese outfit, which has never raced in IMSA LMP2 before, currently fields three Orecas in ELMS with two under the G-Drive Racing banner and one under Algarve Pro.
Cox explained that the team would need to add a fourth Oreca chassis to its stable in order to run a dual-series program with two cars each.
An Asian Le Mans Series title defense would likely precede an expected ELMS return.
According to Cox, running three different LMP2 seasons with two cars next year “makes sense financially.”
“We would do two cars in IMSA because it’s difficult to do one,” he said.
“It ends up costing so much money for one car. Doing two is just cheaper. And then two cars in Asia, if we can pull that off. It’s just finding the budgets that’s the issue. It’s all about the money.
“From the IMSA perspective, I’m just working out how I can do a container and ship it around the country, and how we can get the people in and out to do it.
“If we can be smart about it, you don’t need a huge amount of room. You just need to prep each race before and after, to get the car ready. It’s just how we do things.
“We know how long the parts run for and we’ve accumulated quite a lot of parts stock, so we’ve got enough to run four cars with. All we need is another chassis, but that’s easy to get a hold of.
“At the end, you just need some money. From that point of view, it’s quite straightforward.”
Roman Rusinov, who brings G-Drive backing to Algarve Pro Racing’s LMP2 project, is on board with the team’s IMSA evaluations.
Rusinov, who has previously shown interest in the DPi class, said that he would “love” to race in the U.S. at some point, although an LMP2 involvement would require the Gold-rated pilot to find a Bronze co-driver for the season if he is to drive.
“First of all, I am working on the side,” Rusinov told Sportscar365. “It depends on how much money it will cost.
“It’s too complicated with the COVID situation, so I don’t want to say anything straightforward now.
“I think Stewart has a very good team. Speaking about APR, it’s a very good team and the car preparation is going very well. You can see the results, and Stewart is a really hard worker.
“If they decide to do America, I would love to do that. If he wants to do it with G-Drive or not, I have no idea. But for sure, he can do a good job in America.
“I was looking at it for a long time. It’s all about how much it would cost and how easy it is to travel. This is the main thing.”
An IMSA venture would not come at the full expense of Algarve Pro Racing’s current ELMS program, according to Cox, although it would likely require downscaling to two cars in Europe to give an even spread of Orecas in each series.
Algarve Pro has gradually expanded its ELMS presence since 2015 when it joined with a single Ligier JS P2 Nissan. The team continued with Ligier through the LMP2 regulations refresh and into 2018, when it added an Oreca 07 Gibson to its stable.
It moved fully to two Orecas in 2019 and started racing under the G-Drive banner later that year in Asia, where it won the first of two regional titles with the brand’s backing.
“The biggest issue with ELMS for me is that there’s not enough races,” said Cox, who suggested that adding another program would be beneficial for the team’s workforce.
“Finding the budget to do extras is difficult, but when your staff come in and do other jobs it [becomes easier]. A lot of the teams have a certain amount of full-time, but I’d rather pay someone more money for a day’s work so they can go off and do other things.
“From our side it’s about having the right sub-contractors working with us who are effectively our full-time people, but why would you have a full-time guy who does 12 weeks of work a year? I’d rather pay a year’s salary for 12 weeks of work.
“And then I know they’ll stick their head down and do a bloody good job. So the more races you do, the better you get and the more you remember stuff.
“You’re playing with the same cars so you wouldn’t know one from the other. From that point of view, it’s quite straightforward.”
Cox indicated that he’s talking to different drivers about the prospect of tackling a North American campaign next year.
One of Algarve Pro Racing’s ELMS and Asian LMS customers is American Bronze-rated driver John Falb, who has made a handful of IMSA appearances in the past.
“Not necessarily John, other drivers,” said Cox when asked about potential lineups. “You’re talking to the ones who are already here like the other teams are already talking to them.
“I think this year we’ve shown that when we’ve got the ingredients and a little more money – what we’re running a car on this year is significantly more. Last year we were on peanuts, but we did it.”