Flying Lizard Motorsports is closing in on a return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with a WeatherTech Sprint Cup program under discussion for 2019, according to program manager Darren Law.
The California-based squad, which has not mounted a full-season IMSA program since 2014, could take part in IMSA’s new seven-round GTD sprint championship as part of an expanded program across multiple series.
Sportscar365 has learned that the team is in advanced discussions with McLaren Automotive to campaign the British manufacturer’s new McLaren 720S GT3, although Law said they’re talking to “many manufacturers” and a deal has not yet been reached.
“There’s nothing yet than I can confirm but we’re working hard to try and have a program [in IMSA],” Law told Sportscar365.
“We’re still negotiating it, but it’s looking like a Sprint Cup program if we can put it together.”
While absent from IMSA competition in recent years, the team has remained active in Pirelli World Challenge, both under the Flying Lizard banner and with operations of K-PAX Racing.
Both programs are set to continue in the newly named Blancpain GT World Challenge America and GT4 America series, respectively, with a potential IMSA Sprint Cup campaign coming as an additional effort.
Law said the creation of the Sprint Cup, announced in August, could become an instant hit among privateer teams.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA competitors Moorespeed and 2018 PWC GT Sprint champions Pfaff Motorsports have already announced programs for next year with Porsche’s new 2019-spec 911 GT3 R.
Additional Sprint Cup efforts, beyond Flying Lizard’s potential program, are also understood to be in the pipeline.
“I think it was a really smart thing for IMSA to do that,” Law said. “At least from a customer racing standpoint, it’s a lot better because the cost to run that program is more reachable.
“It makes sense, it makes it affordable, and it opens up opportunities.”
McLaren Eyeing GTD Introduction Through Sprint Cup
Up to two of the new McLaren GT3 cars could be on the Sprint Cup grid next year, as part of an ease into the WeatherTech Championship for the British manufacturer.
Sportscar365 understands that multiple teams have been in dialogue with McLaren Automotive, which could slowly ramp up its involvement in the GT Daytona class over a multi-year period.
IMSA President Scott Atherton indicated that new manufacturers to GTD that compete in the Sprint Cup only would likely be subject to an “appropriated pro-rated [marketing] commitment,” likening it to an “introductory offer” for manufacturers.
IMSA’s automotive partnerships have been holdups for several GT3 manufacturers in the past, including McLaren, due to the level of financial commitment required on the marketing side.