Pfaff Motorsports team manager Steve Bortolotti says the IMSA’s newly expanded presence on Canadian television played a major role in team’s decision to commit to the full season rather than the WeatherTech Sprint Cup program that was initially announced.
The Canadian television package, which was announced yesterday as part of IMSA’s larger unveiling of its international broadcast rights, will see the WeatherTech Championship’s races carried on the Velocity Discovery Network with cutdown telecasts to appear on TSN.
For the Ontario-based team, which has Canadians Zach Robichon and Scott Hargrove as its full-season drivers, securing the commitment from its soon-to-be-announced Canadian sponsors became much easier when it was established that IMSA would have a presence on television in their home country.
“We were talking to a bunch of partners over the summer that went quiet on us and the next thing you know they came back and said, ‘We’re in!’ right after we announced the Sprint program,” Bortolotti told Sportscar365.
“The partners were a big part of it. It’s a sign of IMSA and where they are right now. People see the value in the Canadian TV package which has people excited.
“A lot of our partners that support us are Canadian, and when there was no TV package in Canada they were unsure. Now that there is, its’ a pretty good opportunity for them: Canadian team, Canadian partners, Canadian drivers.”
The decision to take on the full schedule accelerated the timeline to have their new car prepared to be on track, and that challenge escalated when the car arrived at their shop over two weeks after they expected to take delivery.
“The car was delayed due to a shipping issue,” Bortolotti said. “It was nobody’s fault, but the car arrived two and a half weeks after it was supposed to arrive. We picked it up on December 20th.
“I told the guys, ‘Talk to you wives, your girlfriends, your families, just let them know you’re sorry but they aren’t going to see much of your over the holidays.’
“We took one day off over Christmas on Christmas day, but otherwise everyone was in the shop. Our shortest day was 14 hours, and that’s just because we ran out of parts.
“I even had my dad pitching in. I said, ‘If you want to see me over the holidays, I’ll be in the shop and you can do some stuff for us.'”
The team used the Roar Before the 24 test to get up to speed and enters the season with optimism tempered by the reality of the challenge they face.
“My goal is to complete every lap of every race,” he said. “That’s probably a realistic goal. There’s probably going to be some challenges along the way for sure, but if we can finish every lap of every race we’re in good shape.
“I know our drivers are good, it’s just about getting the team up to speed. We’ll do our best. For the 24, our expectation is just to run for 24 hours. If we do that our driver lineup will do the rest.”