While change has been the buzzword in the U.S. sports car racing scene as of late, there’s a level of continuity for a number of teams in the Prototype Challenge class heading into this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
That includes PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, which claimed a breakthrough class victory in last year’s race that ultimately helped propel Mike Guasch to the ALMS PC Drivers’ Championship.
Now under the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship banner, in one of the only categories that has remained status quo since the merger, Guasch will be searching for his third Sebring crown in the last four years.
The Molecule-backed driver has teamed up with Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo, who have taken over full-season driving duties of the team’s brand-new Oreca FLM09 chassis, which makes its race debut this weekend.
“I feel really good about it, actually,” Guasch told Sportscar365. “We tested on Saturday and I was like two seconds faster than I was last year. I think our three drivers is a good lineup, although there is a heck of a lot of competition this year. They’ve loaded the deck in every car. It’s going to be a fight for sure.”
Last year’s around-the-clock enduro saw the Bobby Oergel-led squad score a rather unlikely class victory, with Guasch and co-pilots David Ostella and David Cheng making up one of the only all Silver-rated driver lineups in the race. Incidentally, all three drivers are in different PC entries this weekend.
“The end result is that we’re doing the same thing as we did last year and that’s concentrating on ourselves,” Oergel said. “From our perspective, sure it’s tougher. Looking at trying to repeat, that’s the goal, absolutely. We wouldn’t have come here without that being the goal.
“It’s tougher for the drivers this year than last year because you have a whole lot more of the GTD cars, and the lack of straight line speed of the top Prototype category makes it hard. Because when they are struggling to go the type of lap time we’re going to possibly go, then it’s almost impossible to go by those guys.”
While Jeannette and Montecalvo, who return to PC competition after a year in the ELMS GTE ranks, will be making a run for the season-long championship, Guasch has his sights set on the four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.
Despite having elected to scale back his driving commitments for 2014, it hasn’t affected Guasch’s will to succeed and bring home another IMSA trophy.
“We’re fourth [in the TPNAEC], which obviously sets you back from the beginning,” he admitted. “We had an unfortunate alternator failure at Daytona. But anything can happen. We can do well here and the other guys not do so well and it all of a sudden be a fight again.
“With four races, you better be in the top-three if you can with that thing. It’s still a nice little championship. We’ll take whatever we can get.”