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DragonSpeed Eyeing Rolex 24 Effort with Oreca 07

DragonSpeed evaluating Rolex 24 program with Oreca 07…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Fresh off its breakthrough first European Le Mans Series victory, DragonSpeed could make a return Stateside in a bid for overall honors in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Team owner Elton Julian has revealed that he’s evaluating a single-car Prototype class entry for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener with its new Gibson-engined Oreca 07 LMP2 car.

While a deal has yet to be finalized, Julian said it would be with a similar caliber of drivers the Florida-based team utilized in its LMP2 debut at Sebring in March, where Nicolas Lapierre, Nic Minassian and Henrik Hedman claimed a fourth place overall finish.

“If we come, we’re going to come to try and win it,” Julian told Sportscar365. “We all have the desire but there’s so many variables, including spare parts availability.

“ORECA has been flat out building cars and we wouldn’t want to cause a compromise to us or any other teams.”

Julian said the timing of Daytona fits in well with its 2017 program, as the team has elected to upgrade Hedman’s existing Oreca 05 to the Oreca 07, instead of purchasing two brand-new cars.

The current car has to be shipped back to Florida in December, per its carnet, which opens the door for a Daytona effort.

“We decided, together with ORECA, to step back one of the cars,” Julian said. “We’ll update the one that we have and have another new one. That will probably also help a couple of the American teams jump up the queue a little bit.”

Julian said a final decision on its possible Rolex 24 effort will not have to be made until December, as the upgraded car will only be ready for the second IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona.

While the team’s 2017 focus will again be on the ELMS, but with an expanded two-car program, Julian hasn’t ruled out a future full-time effort in the WeatherTech Championship, should there be customer or manufacturer interest.

“I would love to be there,” he said. “It’s a championship that seems to have incredible strength coming into the Prototype class next year. No matter what everybody says, there’s a lot of momentium. It’s not cheap so it’s difficult to sell. It’s kind of like WEC.

“For a team like mine, we’d like to continue to showcase ourselves in front of manufacturers. But for the immediate future, we don’t have any specific plans.”

For more with Elton Julian, check out this week’s Double Stint podcast, which will be released on Tuesday morning.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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