TRG team owner Kevin Buckler says the team’s appearance in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this weekend at Lime Rock Park is a one-off for now, but the California-based squad is assessing its options for a more regular presence in the series for the remainder of this year and beyond.
While having been a fixture on the North American sports car racing scene for over two decades, the team had entered just three races with a Porsche 911 GT3 R this season prior to its return at Lime Rock with an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 with drivers James Davison and Brandon Davis.
Buckler said the team had been evaluating options in the WeatherTech Championship for some time and said it made sense from several angles to put the program together to enter a GT Daytona car alongside its Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge entry for the Northeast Grand Prix.
“It just sort of made sense,” Buckler told Sportscar365. “We’re here close to the biggest metropolitan market in the United States, several of our partners have strong businesses here, strong connections.
“We have about 40 corporate guests with us this weekend. We can activate a lot better, like motorsport should be. It’s a business, a professional business, and we can do a good job here in this market.
“IMSA has always put a big effort into this race weekend, so for me this is actually one of the biggest sprint races on the schedule.
“We figured if we’re going to try to save our nickels we’re going to do it at a place like this and try to bring both cars, so we had done some testing.
“We have a great history here as well. We’d like to add to that history if we can.”
Buckler said the reason to switch back to the Aston Martin after campaigning a Porsche earlier in the season came down to several factors, including the belief that it gave the team a chance to contend.
“We think that we have a fair chance,” he said. “We have all of the inventory, all of the equipment to run it professionally and my guys know the car really well.
“We’re running the other Aston [in Continental Tire Challenge] here as well, so kind of a little continuity for us.”
While he declined to give specifics on the team’s future plans in the WeatherTech Championship, Buckler said there were 50-50 odds that the team would be back in GTD before the end of the season with the Porsche or the Aston Martin.
He added that the team is already working on positioning itself for 2018, which played a role in the decision to race this weekend.
“This time of year, we’re always looking for good partnerships and good opportunities for next year, so it’s a good time to open your doors for business and make sure you’re in the paddock,” said Buckler.
“[We’re] always looking for a good manufacturer alignment. We’re the team that can do it all.
“From the board room to the race track and everything in between, we’ve always worked hard on all of that. Multiple teams, multiple cars is easy for us.
“I’m really proud of my team, of my crew here and at the office. Depending on what manufacturer programs and/or other GT partnerships and driver sponsor budgets are available, we think we want to be at the top of the choice list.”
When asked about possibly increasing TRG’s presence in Pirelli World Challenge, Buckler said all options were on the table, but added he was been pleased with the direction IMSA has taken in recent years.
“It’s always open,” he said. “We’re a motorsports business, it’s just where are the best opportunities?
“The [IMSA] paddock is beautiful, everything is really dialed in. They work so hard on the BoP which makes me feel good.
“You’re not going home every weekend thinking you’re getting cheated by politics. I really know they’re trying hard. For a team owner, having it fair, it’s a big deal.”