Racing Team Nederland could be the latest European team to commit to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s flagship endurance races, with the Dutch squad closing in on Prototype class effort for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The Frits van Eerd-owned organization, which made its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Rubens Barrichello in the drivers’ strength earlier this month, is looking to take its Dallara P217 Gibson Stateside for the opening two rounds of the season next year, according to team manager Mark Koense.
“It’s a plan and we want to explore doing Daytona and Sebring because in the program it would fit, particularly Daytona,” Koense told Sportscar365.
“If you take a step back and you’re in the sports car [world] and you have a car, and you can do the ‘Grand Slam’ of sports car racing, that’s at least something you should consider, and that’s something we’re doing at the moment.”
While currently focused on the remainder of the European Le Mans Series season, Koense said they have begun preliminary investigations into an WeatherTech Championship program, having met with IMSA staff at Le Mans.
The driving force behind the proposed effort, and the entire LMP2 program, is van Eerd, the CEO of the Jumbo Supermarket chain, who spent time in the U.S. before taking over one of the leading companies in The Netherlands.
The team got its first taste of the U.S. racing scene earlier this year during a week-long pre-season Dunlop tire test at Sebring, which Koense said whet their appetite for more.
“We’ve always said that Frits’ life is Jumbo Supermarkets, and then he has family and he has his racing,” Koense said.
“We were testing at Sebring, Frits studied in the States as a youngster, he loves the country. We were there on an evening and go like ‘bloody hell, if ever there was a chance to do some serious racing here.’
“A [full] championship, calendar-wise, it’s the same reason why we opted for the European Le Mans Series. FIA WEC, it’s impossible to fit into his agenda. But I’m definitely looking forward to exploring.”
Koense said they plan to return to the ELMS next year, with Le Mans again serving as the centerpiece, and a decision on its U.S. exploits to be made in the coming weeks.
Should the program get the green light, it would mark the first Gibson-powered Dallara to compete in the WeatherTech Championship, in what looks to be an already well-subscribed Prototype grid of European entries for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
United Autosports has confirmed it will enter its Ligier JS P217 Gibson for Daytona, with Rebellion Racing set to return and TDS Racing also closing in on a potential effort for at least the opening round of the championship.