8Star Motorsports is set to continue its multi-faceted sports car racing program in both IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship, according to team owner Enzo Potolicchio, who gave Sportscar365 an update on its plans for 2014.
Despite an investigation into a corruption scandal in Venezuela that has temporary frozen all disbursements of hard currency for its supported drivers, Potolicchio said that development has not affected his team’s programs.
Instead, it’s been the recent release of the draft Daytona Prototype technical regulations for next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship that has forced the Florida-based organization to re-think its involvement in the Prototype category.
“We’re looking at options of what to do,” Potolicchio told Sportscar365. “I think the future is going to be really, really good for the series but it’s just right now that we’re in a really bad position. The P2 cars, you don’t have to do [much] to those cars and just show up and race and we have to make a lot of changes and development to catch up. We’re in the wrong position right now owning [DP cars].”
Potolicchio invested in two brand-new Coyote-chassied Corvette DPs for 2013, which saw encouraging results in its first season, including podium finishes at Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen with some of his star drivers, Stephane Sarrazin and Michael Valiante.
However, with upgrade costs, under the current draft set of rules, projected by teams to be anywhere from $400,000 to more than $1 million, it has forced a number of DP owners, including Potolicchio, to have an immediate re-think about their plans.
“All of the changes they proposed last week were really expensive and we’re going to need a lot of development and testing,” he said. “We would have to load the car with more downforce and brakes, so that’s going to make things more complicated for all of the components.
“I’m really concerned about that. The car has been reliable in the past but we don’t know how reliable it’s going to be with 60 percent more downforce, more horsepower and more brakes. We can’t really budget our DP program right now and that concerns me.
“We’ll have to sit down next week to see what [IMSA] is modifying with the rules and see what decision we’re going to make internally… Whether we’re going to go ahead and gamble on those rule changes or just hold back for one year and wait for everything to settle down [in the Prototype class].”
Potolicchio said he has received interest from two funded drivers wanting to go DP racing next year and will take a car to Sebring and Daytona next month for the official pre-season test. One option, however, could be to place those drivers in the team’s PC program for next year, which is expected to be considerably less expensive.
8Star debuted its Oreca FLM09 at Petit Le Mans earlier this month, which saw an impressive runner-up finish for Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall. Potolicchio said they have an option to buy a second PC car from Europe, although it would be dependent on customer interest and whether they can secure an entry in the class, which is currently capped to 10 cars.
Plans for a P2 program, meanwhile, have been put on hold due to the evolving regulations. The team had been in talks with both Morgan and ORECA. Prospects of seeing an 8Star LMP2 car in the WEC has also been shelved in favor of a likely return to the GTE-Am class with a Ferrari F458 Italia run in conjunction with AF Corse.
“I had a meeting in Japan with the manufacturer,” Potolicchio said of the P2 option. “It’s really hard to make a decision what to do. The car is ready and could be shipped here to race. But I really believe, by the end of it, that the DP is going to be faster [than the P2]. I just don’t know how how much money we would have to spend in order to achieve it.”
With the team’s multi-car program in Prototype Lites also set to continue, Potolicchio is also working to attract up-and-coming drivers from both South America and Europe to his organization for 2014. If a DP program is given the green light, 8Star would be the only team field cars in the Prototype, Prototype Challenge and Prototype Lites categories, showcasing its ladder system in the sport.
“If you look at our first year in racing, we accomplished a lot,” Potolicchio said. “We had a successful IMSA Lites program and our PC program had a great first race at Petit Le Mans, showing that we had a competitive car and a great program for any customer.
“Our DP program also, we were the only team unloading the car with no data, no past information and we still had podiums and good results. Even though the team just became one year old, it’s already a good option for customers and sponsors.”