After being forced to sit out this year’s American Le Mans Series season due to lack of funds, Conquest Endurance is on the brink of confirming a Prototype program for 2014, yet may not have a place to race.
In speaking with Sportscar365, team owner Eric Bachelart revealed that plans are being put into place for a single-car P2 effort for the North American Endurance Championship. However, with full-season entries set to take priority, it’s left the 2012 ALMS P2 runner-ups without any way of confirming an entry for Daytona and Sebring.
“I’ve been motivated to be in the series for next year. I’ve been working on this for quite a few months and going to a few races. The plan was to get back in 2014,” Bachelart told Sportscar365. “We’re trying to be at the [November] test but I need to understand more about what’s going on.
“I’ve had no explanation yet, other than a brief email saying that right now, they’re not taking any entries for individual races. We don’t even know what the entry fees are or the prize money and we’re in the middle of October.”
Bachelart says he’s built a five-race program with an Oreca 03 Nissan, featuring the four slated NAEC rounds at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and has already received interest from funded drivers.
A full-season program, one that could guarantee Conquest’s P2 car to be on the grid for the major enduros, is currently not an option, which has left the longtime open-wheel team owner in limbo regarding his 2014 plans.
“The problem is that [USCC] is going to cost more money than before,” he said. “There will be more races and longer distances. For some drivers, it becomes [too expensive] so they want to pick and choose the races they want to do.
“These four races makes a lot of sense for some drivers. I feel like I could put together a very good program together. But now, I don’t know.”
Bachelart has also looked at a potential Prototype Challenge program and has an option on an Oreca FLM09 as well, but is concerned about the category’s rapid growth and its future within the series.
It’s understood a host of European P2 teams, also looking to contest the NAEC rounds, are in similar situations.
OAK Racing, Greaves Motorsport and Thiriet by TDS Racing have all expressed interest for Daytona and Sebring but may not be granted entries, depending on the number of full-season cars that are confirmed.
It could relegate the grid at Daytona to a minimal amount of ACO-spec prototype machinery, with Extreme Speed Motorsports and a soon-to-be-announced effort the only confirmed P2 entries in USCC for next year.
Bachelart said he hopes to know more about his team’s situation by the end of this week.