The new Ave-Riley AR-2 LMP3 car could make its competition debut as early as next month’s European Le Mans Series round at Imola.
The first U.S.-built LMP3 car had to undergo revisions to the splitter, roof and windshield in order for it to be homologated by the ACO, which has resulted in the delay, according to Tony Ave.
“We had missed a couple of small things that we had to change the molds of for the regulations,” Ave told Sportscar365. “In particular the roof and the windshield, it takes awhile.
“So that was the big thing, but it happens. I had started a carbon shop to do the bodywork and such because of the price cap, so I could make the cars and not lose money.
“And that, combined with the revisions set us back four weeks or so. We’re close.”
Ave said he expects to begin on-track testing, likely either at VIR or Road Atlanta, shortly, prior to the car’s final homologation which is expected within the next few weeks.
The Trans-Am and sports car ace, along with fellow American Doug Peterson, will race the AR-2 with Murphy Prototypes once the car debuts in the ELMS, which Ave said is likely to be at Imola on May 13-15.
Ave and Peterson took part in last weekend’s season-opener in a rented Ginetta LMP3, which gave the pairing a chance to work with the Irish squad for the first time.
“It’s a really exciting project,” team principal Greg Murphy told Sportscar365. “It’s a brand new car. We know that there’s great people behind it.
“So for us, it’s the most exciting thing we’ve had since pretty much we started. It’s really exciting.
“The new chapter of LMP3, the dominance of Ligier… Obviously we’d like to think that we’re going to be trying to beat them. Being at the ground level as an engineering challenge, it’s great.”
Ave said they already have four AR-2s sold to customers in the U.S., while there’s a high level of interest also in Europe, despite the ELMS LMP3 grid currently being oversubscribed.
He expected at least eight to ten cars to be running by the end of the year.
“We have a lot of customer interest both [in Europe] and in the States for track day cars also, which surprised me,” Ave said.
“Guys over [in Europe] want to buy them, so that they can come to ELMS racing or in the national championships. A lot of guys want to run them in the national championships.”
While there’s currently no dedicated championship in North America for LMP3 cars, Ave, who is a partner in Trans-Am, feels it’s just a matter of time until the platform is fully embraced.
“The answer to that question is yes, there definitely will be,” he said. “Whether it’s IMSA or not… [IMSA] would be the easiest way.
“But I can tell you this, if they don’t do it, there’s a lot of other people waiting to do it.
“I own part of Trans-Am, and we could very easily make it part of those weekends. But I rather not mess with that because it’s enough work doing what I do.
“It’s obvious that it’s a cool prototype; it looks good, it’s fun to drive, and it costs less than my Trans-Am car.
“They will definitely be racing them in the States. Exactly how or where, is a little jump ball right now.
“There’s a lot of interest. The fields [in Europe] have opened some eyes too within the professional series in the States, and that’s obviously the model that some of these guys are trying to go after.”