TF Sport is aiming to add a second LMP2 car to its stable next year for an expanded program in the category, as it aims to spread out its overall racing operation in preparation for future changes in the sports car racing landscape.
Team principal Tom Ferrier told Sportscar365 that the British outfit is “discussing” the addition of a second Oreca 07 Gibson alongside the one it already runs in the European Le Mans Series for Racing Team Turkey driver Salih Yoluc.
Ferrier confirmed that TF Sport and Yoluc will be working together again next year, and identified the potential avenues that the partnership might take in terms of series.
“We’re discussing having a second LMP2 and we’ve got interest there,” said Ferrier.
“Just in what, we’re not quite sure yet. It could be WEC or it could be ELMS. Once the calendar goes out, we can get a budget together.
“It all depends on if they have an extra race and air freight legs, but if it stays as it is and it’s all sea freight, it’s a bit more manageable. We’ll see what it comes out at.
“We’ll look at Asian Le Mans with [Yoluc]. If he does ELMS we’ll probably do Asia before it, for a bit of seat time.
“If he does WEC, we’ll probably just do WEC. And we’re maybe looking at a second car in ELMS, in LMP2. It’s a sprinkle in the mind at the moment.”
TF Sport contested the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the first time earlier this year with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and is keen to get back to the IMSA season-opener in 2022.
Having a second LMP2 will give the team the option to enter Yoluc into Daytona and Asian LMS.
“We’d love to do it, and we’ve talked to Salih about that as well,” said Ferrier.
“He’d like to do it in P2. But it’s just budget-related. It’s definitely something we are looking at, for sure. It’s just trying to find a way to get the budget together.
“That’s the tricky bit because you’d need two cars. We could buy a car and do Daytona and Asia, and so we might as well use it in the summer.”
According to Ferrier, purchasing a second Oreca chassis would also help his team to prepare for future movements in sports car racing.
LMP2 will be refreshed with a new set of regulations in 2024, in accordance with the gradual arrival of LMH and LMDh as new top-level formulas over the next couple of years, although details of the future second-tier class are limited at present.
TF Sport also runs extensive GTE and GT3 programs. GTE is set to continue to be eligible through 2023 at the latest, while GT3 is widely rumored to be taking its place.
“It would be nice for us to have a spread across GT and prototypes,” said Ferrier, who anticipates continuing with two GTE-Am cars in WEC next year.
“And obviously with LMDh coming, it would be nice to be in a competitive place in prototypes as well. We’re looking at all options.
“The only thing with P2 [is that] I don’t know where that goes in a couple of years. I still think there’ll be a P2-type class. Whether or not is has to be like it is in GTE-Am, with a Bronze in all the time…
“Maybe that’s the way to do it. All the Pro stuff happens in LMDh and P2 is for pro-am racing. I’m only going off what it costs here, but I don’t think you would have enough customers to find that kind of budget. Whereas P2 is still affordable to a lot of people.
“It’s a tricky one to know where that goes. And then you’ve got the whole GT3 era coming, which is also a mystery at the moment to everybody.
“Will they be standard GT3 cars or a WEC kit going on a GT3? It’s all a bit unknown.”
Ferrier said that enlarging the LMP2 program would enable TF Sport to ensure it has “something to fall back on” if one category falters.
“If you can become a bit of an established P2 team and you’ve got your GT stuff, then you’re covering both bases there,” he explained.
“If one isn’t very popular all of a sudden, or isn’t working and has no demand, then at least you’ve got something to fall back on.
“If both are wonderful, that’s great. I think it’s the right time to try and spread yourself a little bit. We’re definitely looking at it.
“We’re in a good place. It’s just trying to understand where the path is in the next five years.”
Project 1 Considering GT3 in Longer Term
Another organization preparing for future changes in the sport is Team Project 1, which is looking to tool up for a potential GT3 program for when GTE-Am disappears.
Team principal Axel Funke told Sportscar365 that Project 1 is “of course” working out how to arrange what would be a brand-new GT3 project, considering how the category is poised for a greater presence at Le Mans and its associated series.
“This is where you have to look into the future,” he said.
“But you also have to see what the manufacturer does with its product. The product we use here is a good product, it’s working.
“In the end, you also need someone to buy it from you. That’s the next thing. Definitely that’s the way we’re looking at things going with GT3, to carry on with the championship.”
Funke admitted that the team has not put much thought into LMDh or other prototype formulas but would be interested should a viable customer racing platform emerge.
Both Porsche and Audi, which are collaborating on their Multimatic-based LMDh cars, are set to provide cars to customer teams.
“I don’t think that the manufacturer would have another pro team,” said Funke. “We would have to go in as a customer. If LMDh is also run with amateurs, maybe it’s something to consider.
“But also you need to find drivers for it. In the end, you need to find a way of making it interesting to the customer.”