There could be an additional manufacturer joining the GT Daytona ranks before the end of the year, as HTP Motorsport is evaluating a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 entry in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. (En Français)
The German squad, formerly known as HEICO Motorsport, has been a dominant force in the European GT scene, winning the 24 Hours of Spa, the Blancpain Endurance Series title with Maximilian Buhk as well as claiming both Pro-Am and Gentlemen Trophy championships in the FIA GT Series last year.
HTP will return to both series in 2014, while also mounting an attack on the ADAC GT Masters, Nurburgring 24 and next month’s Bathurst 12 Hour.
However, the Norbert Bruckner-owned squad is also exploring a TUDOR Championship entry with one of its gull-winged beasts. It would mark the first Mercedes to enter the series’ GTD class, which allows GT3-based machinery.
“The team is thinking about it,” technical director Renaud Dufour told Endurance-Info. “The U.S. regulations are different, requiring a specific kit. The ABS and traction control must be removed, as well as changing the wing and fuel tank and understanding the new tires.
“We must amortize the costs of developing a kit. So there are two solutions: Mercedes could develop a kit, or we develop it ourselves. There’s a willingness to go but it takes time to prepare everything and we’re already busy.
“It was a wise decision not to start at Daytona. We must wait a little bit to see how the regulations will work out, but we have customers interested.”
The GTD class saw a capacity 29-car field in last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, although entries typically drop off towards the second half of the year.
If the trigger is pulled, Mercedes would join the likes of Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, SRT, Aston Martin and an expected mid-season entry from Nissan in the production-based ranks.
At least one additional manufacturer is also understood to be in the planning stages of a GTD program that could also come online before the end of the year.
*Laurent Mercier contributed to this article