8Star Motorsports is closing in on a deal to return to the top Prototype class with a new-generation P2 car in next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Florida-based squad, which campaigned a pair of Corvette DPs in GRAND-AM in 2013, has concentrated efforts in the Prototype Challenge class this year, which saw Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz break through for their first victory earlier this month at Virginia International Raceway.
Now, the immediate focus is finalizing efforts on its pending P2 program, with three chassis and two engine options on the table for a program around Diaz and his sponsors, according to team owner Enzo Potolicchio.
“We’re very confident we’ll be in P2,” Potolicchio told Sportscar365. “Our sponsors and Luis Diaz are working really hard to come back to the [top] class. Obviously there’s nothing signed or on paper yet but there’s a lot of interest and motivation from the sponsors.”
Potolicchio said they are evaluating chassis options from ORECA, Onroak Automotive and HPD, all manufacturers the Venezuelan has had current or previous relationships with. For the powerplant, Honda and Judd engines are under consideration.
“Obviously there’s a couple of good cars out there,” he said. “The engineers and salesmen from ORECA are coming to this race to show what they’re doing with their new [Oreca 05] coupe.
“We’ve had the new Ligier at [our shop for OAK Racing], so we’re looking at that car very, very closely. We won the World Championship with HPD, so we’ve obviously been approached by them. We’ve got a decent offer to come back and run a top program with them.”
Despite the potential of two existing P2 teams leaving the TUDOR Championship at season’s end, Potolicchio doesn’t seem concerned about the future of the ACO’s cost-capped platform in the U.S., with a considerable amount of interest have surfaced this weekend at COTA.
Onroak Automotive team principal Philippe Dumas told Sportscar365 that he’s received four inquiries for potential U.S. customers of the Ligier JS P2 next year, not including today’s pending announcement from Krohn Racing.
Dumas confirmed sister company OAK Racing will not field a full-season TUDOR Championship entry next year should they sell at least one Ligier to a team for the entire series.
“It’s a tough decision but I also see a lot of DP teams looking at P2s,” Potolicchio said. “There were teams looking at [the Ligier] yesterday. There’s both ways.
“There’s people that think there’s still too many advantages for the DP. But you have to look at the big picture and the whole championship. Some tracks, the DP will be better and on some tracks, the P2 will be better.
“It’s all about the championship and not just one race.”
Potolicchio expects to make a decision shortly after this weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans.
“This weekend is really good for us because we’re able to compare all of the cars out there,” he said. “The Ligier is running the same restrictor as as the old HPD chassis, which we know is a really good one.
“We’re looking forward to seeing and comparing data so that by next week we can make a final decision.”