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VisitFlorida.com Racing Evaluating 2016 Options, 24H Le Mans Debut

VisitFlorida.com Racing evaluating 2016 Prototype options…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

With the new global LMP2 regulations becoming more defined, one of the leading Daytona Prototype teams is considering getting a jump start on 2017 with a transition to a P2 car for next year.

Speaking to Sportscar365, VisitFlorida.com Racing team owner Troy Flis confirmed he’s already exploring the P2 market, with a effort in the 24 Hours of Le Mans being considered as one of the options for 2016.

“I think, as in anything in this sport, you’ve got to try to lead the way if you can. For us, getting [a LMP2 car] the sooner the better is best for us,” Flis told Sportscar365.

The Spirit of Daytona-run squad, with Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante, currently lead the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype title race with its venerable Corvette DP.

But with the Coyote-chassied DP no longer being eligible come 2017, Flis hasn’t ruled out a switch to a current-spec P2 car for next year that could be upgradable to the new set of regulations.

“I would love to get a jump on it and start early and there’s only one manufacturer that you can do with that right now,” he said. “But I don’t know what the changes are going to be.

“I think everybody’s still in a holding pattern for the next constructor meetings and find out what they’re going to allow and not allow. It’s a large cost for us to go buy something for us to start running [now].

“By the mid-season of ’16 is when everyone is going to need cars. I think it’s a great plan, something I’m excited for. But on the same side, I think we’ll look at seeing who our partners are and what they want to do.”

Out of the four confirmed chassis constructors, only the Oreca 05 is understood to be able to be upgraded, in some form, to the new yet-to-be-finalized 2017 LMP2 regulations, and Flis admitted the French manufacturer is his team’s leading chassis option.

He’s even considering a Le Mans bid next year, as a toe-in-the-water experience with P2 machinery, in order to hit the ground running in 2017.

“Our partner, VisitFlorida, is definitely interested in Le Mans,” Flis said. “If we can go there and have a good showing and go there with a good product, we would definitely think about that.

“It might even be a deal of co-partnering with someone or something of that nature with our same [chassis] partner.

“If somebody has an Oreca [05] and is going to go over there next year, maybe it’s something we’d jump on to learn the car with them and get a little head start with that because that car is going to be similar to what we get.”

Flis said a final decision on the team’s 2016 program and chassis selection will likely be made by September, around the Lone Star Le Mans, an event which will see the Oreca 05 make its North American debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship race.

“I think for us, and our overall program, it would probably be more sensible for us to stay with the Daytona Prototype one more year if it’s going to be a competitive piece,” Flis said.

“But if we find out that they’re not going to allow us to be as competitive as we are now to the P2 cars because they’re trying to wash them out, we’re going to be forced to do it.

“We’ve got to be competitive for our partners.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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