After getting a taste of the GT Daytona ranks this year, Lone Star Racing is targeting a full-season program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017, but wth a new GT3 car.
The Texas-based squad, which committed to a four-race program with its Dodge Viper GT3-R with Mike Skeen and team owner/driver Dan Knox, will not return with the V10-powered beast next year due to IMSA’s required licensing agreement for GTD manufacturers.
Fellow Viper competitor Ben Keating fronted the majority of the funds to keep the car racing in GTD this season but the ViperExchange.com owner will switch to a different car for next year.
“For the price of the fee, I could buy a new car and go run,” Knox told Sportscar365. “That’s what we’re working on.
“We’d like to stay with IMSA and would have to purchase a new car and run that.”
Knox, the owner of ACS Manufacturing, said he’s been evaluating multiple GT3 options, along with finding sufficient sponsorship to make the full-season commitment in the GTD class, which expands to 12 rounds next year.
“Nothing’s set in stone but there’s a lot of good cars out there,” Knox said.
“You’ve got the Audi, which is a great car. Mike [Skeen] has been running them for quite a while. You have the new Mercedes that’s out that’s kicking butt over in Europe right now.
“There’s options there for us, we just haven’t decided what we want to do.”
The former Pirelli World Challenge competitor has been impressed with the level of competition in the GTD class this year, which has seen six different teams and manufacturers score class victories in nine races.
Knox and Skeen are coming off another top-ten finish in last weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, heading into the team’s home round at Circuit of The Americas next month.
“It’s been a huge, huge difference in talent from what it has been in the past,” Knox said. “That’s one of the things that hurts me, not being able to race every week.
“It’s a little bit more of a learning curve, to get back up to that level where you need be to compete in the series, it’s very difficult but enjoyable. It’s good to have competition.”
Having been a longtime Viper competitor, in both SCCA club racing and Viper Cup competition, Knox, like fellow Texan Keating, are sad to see the latest pro-racing chapter of the car end, at least in IMSA.
The car will continue to be eligible for PWC competition next year, which the former GTA race winner said could be a fall-back option should their GTD plans not materialize.
“The Viper is the only American-made car in GTD and it’s sad to see that go away, being an American racing series,” Knox said.
“It would be nice to see another American car in the GTD class. You’ve obviously got Corvettes in GTLM but not in GTD.”