OAK Racing is facing an uncertain future in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as the French squad is set to shift its focus to customer support of the new Ligier JS P2.
Speaking to Sportscar365 at Bahrain International Circuit, site of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race, team principal Philippe Dumas admitted a return in the U.S., either as a full-season or part-time basis, is unclear at this point.
“We would like to return next year, but we can’t do everything,” Dumas told Sportscar365. “The most important thing at the moment is Onroak and to develop the customer side with selling cars, especially with what we did this year in TUDOR and WEC with the Ligier.
“It’s the priority, to be honest, to develop this side and to give customers perfect support.”
OAK’s manufacturing arm, Onroak Automotive, has made considerable gains in recent months, with Krohn Racing, Michael Shank Racing and Graff Racing all ordering Ligiers for 2015.
Dumas said they’re in discussions with two to three additional potential customers, which could make for an extremely busy off-season for the Le Mans-based constructor as it ramps up production of the closed-top LMP2 car.
“We’ve developed a great car and it’s shown in TUDOR and WEC and at Le Mans,” he said. “We are a little bit [ahead] of the other manufacturers at the moment with our P2, so we need to optimize it.
“It’s a good moment to sell cars for the next two years, so we really need to be focused on it and give the best support we can.”
As for OAK’s 2015 race program, Dumas said a decision will likely be made between the FIA WEC or TUDOR Championship, as they don’t want to spread themselves too thin from a resource perspective.
While no deal has been confirmed, talks are already in the advanced stages for the OAK-run G-Drive Racing outfit to return next year, possibly as a two-car effort.
“It will be too difficult to be all over the world like this year in WEC, TUDOR and everything,” Dumas said. “We are working with G-Drive to continue in WEC, and if we continue in WEC, it would be very difficult to do both championships.”
One of the other big hurdles in America right now is the cost of putting together a full-season program, which Dumas says is “more or less” the same budget required for a FIA WEC effort.
“It’s a question of money,” he said. “It’s not easy to find the right money to do the full championship in TUDOR. If we find a good partner, maybe. Even for Daytona and Sebring, it’s quite tough.”
While the team’s Ligier-Honda has remained Stateside following Petit Le Mans, Dumas said they have the option to sell the car, meaning it may not even contest the opening two rounds of the championship as originally planned.
“We have many things in our hat and you never know if the decision you take will be the good one or not. But we must make a decision quite soon.”
That decision, Dumas says, is likely to be made by the end of the month, once OAK’s full 2015 race program is confirmed.