Progress continues to be made on the first American-built LMP3 car, with the joint Ave Motorsports/Riley Technologies AR-2 prototype set to begin on-track testing later this summer.
“We’re full speed ahead,” Tony Ave told Sportscar365. “I decided to not rush the first [car] and get it homologated until we could run it a little bit. Hopefully we end up with a better product. That’s our plan.”
The Riley-designed, Ave-built LMP3 car marks the group’s first joint venture into prototype racing, following the successful AR-1 Trans-Am chassis run in the TA class.
Ave said the AR-2 project has already generated interest from prospective customers, with plans to establish a European support base at the Nürburgring in association with Roehrig Engineering.
The car could make its competition debut by as early as the European Le Mans Series season finale at Estoril in October, in the hands of a to-be-announced customer.
“We have a fair amount of customer interest from people that don’t race [in the TUDOR Championship], people that race with me in Trans-Am and stuff like that,” Ave said.
“Once we announced it, the guys that are racing here, obviously because it’s a Riley design, are very interested. I’m excited about it.”
Ave is hopeful the LMP3 platform becomes eligible in the TUODR United SportsCar Championship.
IMSA recently hosted an exploratory test with a Ginetta-Nissan at Watkins Glen, marking the first LMP3 car to be run in North America as a potential replacement to the Prototype Challenge class.
“I think it should race here and it would just change the size of the business a little bit,” Ave said. “It makes a big difference to me obviously.
“Some of the [U.S.-based] guys that are buying stuff from me are willing to take a chance and just track day it if they don’t race it here.
“They’ve been longtime customers of mine so they’re making sure that I can get the project done right.”
The LMP3 test arguably proved that changes would have to be made to the current concept, should it replace PC, as the car was more than eight seconds off the pace from the Oreca FLM09.
“The horsepower side of it needs to be looked at in terms of making them a little bit faster,” said Ave, who attended the test.
“The car we’re building is certainly capable of a lot more horsepower than they put in them.
“I’m all for saying, ‘Look, if you want to bump it up a little bit, that’s a better deal.’
“It’s a double-edged sword because if you keep it at the P3 rules exactly, it’s more economical to build them because you’re sending some to Europe and some here.
“But to be honest, I’ll do whatever it takes to get them to run in this country and be popular over here.
“If that means we have to have a different [engine] package, either we tune up the engine that comes in it or we utilize a different engine for this country, then it’s very easy for us to do.”