Team Hardpoint EBM could return to a two-car GT Daytona effort by as early as next month’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Detroit according to team owner Rob Ferriol, who is still actively pursuing sponsorship to have its No. 88 Porsche 911 GT3 R back with an all-female driver lineup.
Ferriol moved over to the No. 88 Porsche in last weekend’s round at Mid-Ohio alongside Katherine Legge following the decision to park its No. 99 entry for at least the opening round of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup due to sponsorship issues stemming from its all-female initiative.
The combining of the two lineups put both Earl Bamber and Christina Nielsen without drives for the race.
“There’s a stakeholder behind that program that we began talking to last year,” Ferriol explained to Sportscar365.
“There was a lot of positive early indicators from partners above and beyond Richard Mille and some of the others that came on.
“As we got through the first quarter of the (calendar) year, those positive signals began to wane a bit. Then a few more would come in.
“What I try to do is to be as flexible as possible and continue to lean forward, continue to put the car on the grid in the hopes that they can get that last cog in the wheel put together.”
Ferriol said it was important to keep Legge as part of the lineup in order to continue to showcase the team’s message of women in motorsports.
“To draw down to one car, keep that chassis on the grid and at least keep Katherine on the grid, we’re continuing to invest in the empowerment message that we started the year with,” he explained.
“What I didn’t want to have happen was… I stood up at the beginning of the year and said I was all for women in motorsports and all for diversity in motorsport and empowering women.
“Then in the first sign of trouble, I’d say, ‘OK, never-mind.’ We’re just going to go back to what I was going to do and sorry you’d have to sit this one out yet again.
“For me, in order to keep my integrity and continue to invest in what I think is important — not just for us as a team but also for the sport — the right thing to do was stand down in what would have been my solo effort in the 99 car and move over to the 88, keep Katherine on the grid, continue to activate and brand Richard Mille and Champion, and continue to keep that out there to keep pushing to see if we can get one of those early indictors to come in and commit for the rest of the season or a portion of the season or whatever the case may be.
“You can’t do that unless you have the car out there.”
When asked how quickly they could react should the sponsorship materialize, Ferriol said they “absolutely” can still put together a program in time for the next round in Detroit on June 11-12.
“We acted in under 14 days at both Daytona and Sebring,” he said. “We obviously don’t like to react that fast.
“It could potentially negatively impact performance, preparation and all of the obvious elements of racing.
“But in terms of can we, we’ve proven it twice that we can turn on a dime and we can react and get the car out there.
“If we get a phone call in a week and say, ‘Hey we’ve got it.’ We can go all-female with the 88 entry for the rest of the year, then that’s what we’ll do.
“In the meantime my priority is to maintain the health of the team from an operational and financial perspective and try to do that while also standing behind what I supported at the beginning of the year.
“We started at Mid-Ohio. That allows us for two or three weeks for the other stakeholders to circle the wagons and see what they could put together.
“If we get to Detroit and it’s not there yet or they don’t have a good read on something being in place then I’ll run with Kat in Detroit.
“We’ll keep stepping our way through the season. If that’s how it goes for the rest of the season then that’s how it goes.
“I’d be delighted to drive with Kat for the rest of the year. I have the utmost respect for her and how she drives, how she competes and everything she’s done up to this point.”