After achieving success in the Prototype Challenge ranks, and currently in the fight for this year’s class championship, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports is eyeing a step up to the Prototype category with a P2 car in 2016.
The Bobby Oergel-led squad, which claimed class victories in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, is currently exploring various options that would put them in the fight for overall wins and podiums in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“As a team, that’s where we want to be,” Oergel told Sportscar365. “We want to go play in the top level of sports car racing. From our standpoint, our long-term plan is five years out, not just next year.
“The hard part is next year because not all the things are in place to do it at this point. From our side of the fence, it’s sooner than later. We need to get moving.
“From a standpoint of why and how, it’s been an escalation. We’ve done great things in [PC], I love this category and what it’s all about. Now it’s time to move to the next category.”
Longtime PR1 driver Mike Guasch is the driving force behind the targeted move to the P class, with the 2013 American Le Mans Series PC champion bringing funding from Cuttwood to potentially make the program a reality.
He said it would be the goal to keep the California-based team intact, including co-driver Tom Kimber-Smith, who joined them for a full-season campaign this year.
“I’m kind of tired of PC,” Guasch told Sportscar365. “It teaches you a lot and I’d like to take that and see what I can do in P2. I think I have it.
“I want to force myself to get it, one way or another, and push me harder and push me to the next level.
“I think I’m at the top of my game right now, so If I can keep that momentum going forward into next year… Applying it to PC is just staying stagnant. I want to keep going.
“The big thing is the finances but that’s been good for me with our new business. Cuttwood is doing very good as my new sponsor. I believe we can afford it. Now let’s just make it happen.”
Guasch said they are currently exploring three different P2 chassis options, which ranges from the purchase of a car to lease options.
“There’s so many changes going on for ’17, so what options do you choose?” he said. “Do you choose something that’s good enough for next year and grandfathered into ’17 and that’s the end. Or do you get something now and preparing for ’17?
“Most of the chassis we’re looking at, there’s a bunch of changes that will have to come in ’17. You have all these costs that incur if you go one way or another. It’s all about balancing it out.
“There’s a few manufacturers that are very eager to get their cars out there [in the U.S.] and they should be.
“If you don’t get a car out there next year, it’s not going to have any credibility. You’re going to look back at European results. There will be nothing that would run here.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the manufacturers to get a car out here, whatever it takes, that’s going to give them credibility and proof that it can run. They’ll sell more cars for ’17.”
With the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season winding down, Guasch and Oergel said a decision on their 2016 plans would have to be made shortly.
“We need to make a decision in the next few weeks,” Guasch said. “Right after the end of the season, we want to be working towards a P2 program, if we can get the right one in position.
“If not, I don’t know what we’ll do, to be honest, because I’m not really committed to going back to PC. Realistically, my other choices would be to go to ELMS and run P2.
“I really want to run P2 next year, one way or another.”