RGR Sport team manager Toni Calderon is hopeful of being back on the LMP2 grid in the FIA World Endurance Championship, despite not having been able to retain Bruno Senna, as the Mexican squad continues to finalize its funding for next year.
Senna, a standout driver from this season, was announced as one Rebellion Racing’s four drivers for its new LMP2 program.
“It’s obviously a shame to see Bruno go; we had an amazing year with him and created a great friendship and great working relationship,” Calderon told Sportscar365.
“Unfortunately at the time, he had a good offer from Rebellion and we’re still working things out on our side, so we couldn’t 100 percent commit to him, so we all decided as a group that it was best for his career at the time that he takes that.
“We fully support him and we’ll be happy to hopefully be racing against him next year.”
While Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and team owner/driver Ricardo Gonzalez combined for two class victories and runner-up finish in the LMP2 championship, Calderon said they’re still working through the budgets to officially confirm a return.
The recent economic situation in Mexico, which is forecast to undergo a mild recession next year, has been one of the main factors.
“We’re definitely doing everything we can to be back on the grid next year,” he said. “We’re still waiting for a lot of funding to be defined in Mexico.
“Obviously for the Mexican economy, it’s been a bad year and with the political situation, everybody’s a little nervous right now.
“That’s made it complicated with the exchange rate. Everything has become immediately more expensive. But the plan is to do our best to continue and hopefully within the next four to six weeks we’ll have a much clearer idea of where we stand.”
While having lost Senna, Calderon said it’s their top priority to retain ex-Audi LMP1 factory driver Albuquerque, while also looking to potentially add another top-level prototype ace to its lineup.
A number of high-profile LMP1 drivers, such as Oliver Jarvis, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler are now on the market, as is Brazilian star Pipo Derani, who drove for the sister Tequila Patron ESM squad in WEC this year.
“If we continue, we’ll be pushing our hardest to make sure we have a program as strong as we had this year,” Calderon said.
“There’s a lot of very, very good drivers out there, some we know very well and some new ones that just came on the market because of the Audi situation. It will be a good year looking for drivers, that’s for sure.
“At the moment, we’re still one step back from there. Filipe is our main priority to make sure we can continue with him. He’s an integral part of the team, so that’s our main goal right now.”