Armed with a year of experience in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s top class JDC-Miller Motorsports and AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports are aiming to take another step forward this season.
For the Bobby Oergel-led PR1 squad, new partners and a new look adorn the team’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson this season with a fresh driver lineup to match.
Former IndyCar driver Sebastian Saavedra and his longtime partner AFS have joined, with the Colombian set to pair with countryman Gustavo Yacaman for the full season.
Oergel said the addition of Gary Peterson and his AFS program provides an exciting opportunity for the future of the team.
“It’s really awesome to put together this partnership with Gary and be able to continue as a group of guys”, he told Sportscar365. “We’ve all been together dating back to 2001, 2002.
“To be able to include and bring in Gary and his program, it’s pretty neat. We’re really looking forward to getting a few weeks and months further down the road.
“This came together really late and we’re happy that it did, but obviously it’s not showing yet what it’s really capable of.”
JDC-Miller also sports a different look for this season with the GAINSCO-liveried “Red Dragon” joining the crowd-favorite “Banana Boat” yellow Oreca 07 Gibson in the team’s expanded two-car stable.
Team owner John Church said its succesful debut in the top class last year helped create opportunities, and the move to two cars has opened up new avenues for growth.
“I think it exceeded our expectations,” Church told Sportscar365. “We didn’t know what to expect. We felt like we made a good choice with the Oreca.
“The car was strong and the team was strong. We got better as the year went on.
“I was very happy with our first year and we’re hoping we can continue the development curve with the second car. We’re not new to multi-car programs.
“I think at some point you figure out where you’re strong and where you’re weak and last year we were on an island by ourselves at many races not having a teammate out there.
“From that standpoint, it made sense to have a second program where you can do twice the development, twice the learning on a weekend that you’re not able to do when you’re running as a single team.”
Both team owners said that a year’s experience in the Prototype class has them on firmer footing for their second season, but each admitted new challenges will emerge.
“As far as being more prepared [this year] it’s about knowing what to expect,” said Oergel.
“Coming into the 24 last year, the spectrum of what is was was the worry about if the thing would really run the whole time.
“This year going into the 24, it’s a matter of keeping our head down, doing a good job, everybody keeping their noses clean, and it will be a good week.
“It’s back to what it should be in the scope of things. As a team running a bonafide pro-am lineup I feel good about the fact that if we push hard and do our job we’ll be OK.”
“There’s some aspects we’re way more prepared on than last year and there’s other aspects that we’re probably less prepared,” said Church.
“All in all, we know where we’ve been which is the first big step. We know where we want to go. Now it’s just a matter of getting there.
“The challenges are different. Adding the second car is relatively easy from a standpoint of logistics.
“The challenge is to make sure that the second car benefits the first car and the first car benefits the second car.
“I think we’ve got a really good group of drivers and a great team, so from that standpoint I think it’s going to be a win-win for everybody. Right now, I wish we could race tomorrow and get on with it.”