While set for its entry into ACO-style racing for the first time, United Autosports is already targeting a move into the LMP2 ranks within the next three years.
The Anglo-American squad, co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, will run a pair of Ligier JS P3s in the European Le Mans Series this year, which according to Brown, is aimed to serve as a stepping stone to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and beyond.
“We want to get to Le Mans. At the end of the day, that’s the goal,” Brown told Sportscar365.
“To me our ideal program in the future would be getting into P2 in the ELMS and then running Daytona and Sebring and Petit Le Mans. That’s the direction we’re headed.”
Alex Brundle, Mark Patterson, Mike Guasch and Matt Bell have been confirmed as four of the team’s six drivers for its new ELMS program, having made the switch from an initial planned two-car Ginetta LMP3 effort to Onroak Automotive-built chassis for strategic reasons.
Brown, the founder and Executive Chairman of leading motorsports marking firm JMI, said a move to LMP2 would likely not come until 2018 at the earliest.
“With the new cars coming out [next year], I think we want to get a couple of years into it,” he said. “We switched from Ginetta to Ligier, and Ligier has a LMP2, so it gives us [an option].”
The team is no stranger to working with the French constructor, having fielded an OAK-Pescaorlo Judd at Petit Le Mans in 2011 (pictured above) in what’s been its only P2 outing to date.
“One of the reasons we made the switch is that it does give us the pathway,” Brown added. “We don’t have to make the decision right now but we have a great relationship with Ligier so it would be logical to keep that going.
“We’ve been loyal to Audi — and still are — for five or six years. They’ve been the best customer racing program we’ve ever worked with. We went to McLaren because of the relationships but that didn’t work out too well. I’m glad we kept our Audi.
“I think as long as things go as I suspect they will go with Ligier, there’s no reason to change unless there’s some commercial reason to do so.”
While an ELMS and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup P2 program appears to be on the cards, Brown has essentially ruled out the team making an eventual step up to FIA World Endurance Championship, at least on a full-time basis.
“No, I think the ultimate goal is ELMS and Le Mans,” he said. “It’s easier to sell a European sponsorship.
“As soon as you start getting into all these different territories, it becomes pretty difficult. It’s a lot of travel and a lot of expense.
“And our drivers want to race [on classic European tracks]. If you look at the calendar, I think the European races are as cool as the WEC races. That’s why I don’t see us making the change, which would cost us a lot more money.”