Performance Tech Motorsports is set to focus its full attention on LMP3 racing next year, with a return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP2 class unlikely according to team principal Brent O’Neill.
The Florida-based team, which contested five of the seven eligible rounds for LMP2 machinery this season, has struggled with finding the necessary level of interest in the class.
While hit with COVID-19-related challenges as well, O’Neill explained the category’s lack of exposure, particularly on TV broadcasts, has played a significant role.
“I doubt our LMP2 program will go forward,” O’Neill told Sportscar365. “IMSA doesn’t help.
“We are probably one of the few teams in the paddock that have a real sponsor that spends real money with us.
“When you get the CEO of the company calling you after you finish P2 at Petit Le Mans and he says, ‘If I didn’t know you were racing Brent, I wouldn’t know by the TV.
‘The only time I see the car is if you’re accidentally in the shot with a DPi or GTLM car.’
“It’s really hard to sell. Fortunately I’m friends with the CEO so he continues to pay us.
“There’s some people interested in doing it but IMSA is doing the same thing they did last year by [saying] they’ve got three or four teams coming.
“You get to Daytona and there’s four or five cars. After that, everybody’s done or out.”
O’Neill said their sponsor, Centinel Spine, has expressed interest in continuing but in IMSA Prototype Challenge, where the team already has a foothold with multiple LMP3 entries.
“They see how much PR got, even if it’s just on the NBC Sports App, but they’re talking about the cars,” O’Neill said of the IPC broadcasts on streaming.
“When it comes to WeatherTech, their hands are tied in the booth.
“LMP2 doesn’t fund any TV time. Cadillac, Acura, Mazda all had to put that big check in there to make sure it happens.
“I get it. I’m not throwing anybody under the bus but it doesn’t work for us.
“It doesn’t work for our customers or for me to go out and sell a program like this.
“For us, I think it makes more sense for us to do the P3 stuff.”
O’Neill said they currently plan to run two Ligier JS P320 Nissans in IPC next year, alongside an expected single LMP3 entry in the WeatherTech Championship, with drivers to be announced.
He estimated a WeatherTech Championship season in LMP3 costs $500,000 less than in LMP2, which has also played a factor in their decision.
“For us, our business model, LMP3 makes sense,” O’Neill said. “I think that’s the direction we’re going to be going. We’ve got a lot of excitement.
“If something comes along and somebody says, ‘Hey let’s do P2’ and the budget is right then we’ll go do it.
“But [with LMP3] we can bring new guys into IPC and get them excited about WeatherTech and then move them up.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report