Era Motorsport has scaled back its full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship plans to a focus on the Michelin Endurance Cup races, as well as the possibility of Road America, according to team owner Kyle Tilley.
The Indianapolis-based squad, which had initially confirmed an expansion to contest all seven LMP2 races this year following its class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, has reduced its program and will miss at least two of the three sprint events.
It includes next week’s WeatherTech 240 at The Glen as well as the penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where the No. 18 Oreca 07 Gibson is currently not entered.
The decision, according to Tilley, comes amid a busy summer stretch for the group that includes a full-season European Le Mans Series campaign and return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with IDEC Sport.
“It’s been a combination of factors,” Tilley told Sportscar365.
“I wanted Ryan [Dalziel] and Dwight [Merriman] to do [the Watkins Glen sprint race] but with the amount of time Dwight has spent away from home doing ELMS as well, it was an opportunity for him to a have a weekend at home.
“He’s only just traveled back from Paul Ricard for this event. I think Dwight and Mrs. Dwight are looking forward to spending a weekend at home, which I understand.
“We’re looking at Road America but haven’t made a decision on that either way. We’re 100 percent in on Petit Le Mans; we’re just on the fence about the sprint events.”
While Laguna Seca has been on the LMP2 schedule, Tilley admitted it would be have likely been a race they would have skipped had they not been in championship contention.
Tilley, Merriman and Dalziel currently sit second in both the season-long and Endurance Cup standings entering this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, which counts towards the two championships.
“If we did the Watkins Glen sprint weekend and we were in a position championship-wise, we would have 100 percent gone to Laguna,” Tilley explained.
“But as we’re not, it’s the most expensive event for us to get to. It’s like $30,000 just to get the truck and trailer there before we’ve done anything else.
“That coupled with the fact that Dwight doesn’t really like Laguna, it’s a tough sell.”
Tilley said a decision on the team’s participation at Road America will likely come by the end of this weekend.
If they commit, it would be with the lineup of Dalziel and Merriman due to Tilley’s NASCAR Cup Series road course schedule that sees him in action at Watkins Glen that weekend.
Next weekend’s WeatherTech 240 also clashes with the Cup Series’ first-ever trip to Road America, another race Tilley will be competing in.
“We’d like to do it because we’d like to support IMSA,” Tilley said. “The IMSA car is infinitely more fun to drive than the ELMS car, both because we haven’t had as severe of a power cut and we’re on Michelins.
“We committed to the full ELMS schedule, which is what we had to do to get the Le Mans entry, so we have to honor that.”
While set for a reduced program this year, Tilley said he’s confident of having a larger presence in the WeatherTech Championship in 2022.
“The plan is two cars in IMSA next year,” he said. “We have the cars, we have the equipment and the crew. We’d love to have the two cars here next year. That’s our goal.”