DragonSpeed is searching for a way into the DPi class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year although has been unable to source a car according to team principal Elton Julian.
The two-time Rolex 24 at Daytona LMP2 class-winning squad is looking to use a single-season DPi program as a bridge to an IMSA-based LMDh effort in 2023, although has not been successful in securing a full DPi package, despite chassis being available.
Julian told Sportscar365: “We won Daytona twice but didn’t get the win this year. We’ve done it four times but I said, ‘we’re not coming back unless it’s with a DPi.’
“I want to move up. We already got our heads slashed by COVID so we’re trying to claw ourselves back into the top categories.
“At first I tried really, really hard to get in with Acura before they selected the two (WTR and MSR). Obviously we didn’t have a chance but I pushed.
“After that, Wayne [Taylor] and I made a huge effort to try and make something happen from a DragonSpeed/WTR technical alliance. That wasn’t possible.
“We were a little gun-shy to go back to Dallara after running their LMP1 car. But I started calling around and talked to JDC, who has an [extra] car. John [Church] came back and said there’s no engines [available].
“I go all the way up the totem pole with GM and they said, ‘Yep, no engines available.’
“Now we’re trying to find a way to maybe pick up the pieces of whatever Mazda is going to do and the series is trying to help.
“The moral of the story is that there’s nowhere to go.
“I know it’s a last year deal [in the DPi class]. But we physically can’t [field a car]. It doesn’t seem to be anybody’s fault, but just where the class is at the moment.”
Julian, who has retained his shop in Indianapolis that was previously used for his IndyCar program, said he was hoping to finalize its 2022 plans by last weekend but has since hit a dead end.
“The realization that there’s nowhere to go is surprising and a little disappointing, to be honest,” he said. “What does that mean?
“I’m trying to transition into LMDh. I see next year to do DPi as a good transition year into LMDh.
“As we’ve already run some P1 and IndyCar, I think it’s the right way to approach LMDh, just like I did with IndyCar.
“I don’t think it’s right to go from LMP2 straight to the top class. You need to evolve the team and need certain strengths of the team you don’t have in P2.
“It’s been surprising for us, which is a bummer. It would be [another] car on the grid.
“John Doonan (IMSA President) is trying to do everything he can. As a series they’d like to have us there but that doesn’t seem to be happening.”
DragonSpeed Set for Mazda Discussions
Julian said their only remaining hope is with possibly campaigning a customer Mazda RT24-P, should Multimatic and Mazda make it available for next year.
“From our point of view it’s a much harder sell for our drivers,” Julian admitted.
“Also I have a little bit more [reservations]… I’m confident I can run an Acura or Cadillac. I don’t know enough about the Mazda program and what it takes for that thing to make a lap time.
“There’s been infinite resources and killer personnel. They’ve thrown everything at it. I’d be arrogant to say we can do that, no problem.
“We’re trying to see if there’s even a possibility right now. I don’t know. I never expected to be in a conversation with Mazda but John thinks that maybe there’s reason to chat.”