While appearing nearly identical from the outside, RGR Sport heads into this weekend’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Nürburgring with changes behind the scenes, following a shakeup in management since the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Benoit Morand, the man behind the Team Morand squad which has operated the Ricardo Gonzalez-owned team, is out, having been replaced by a larger influence of OAK Racing staff, and new team manager Toni Calderon.
The Mexican organization, which launched this year with technical support from OAK, has remained largely intact, according to Calderon, who steps into his increased role after serving as the team’s sporting and commercial director.
“The OAK Racing guys are top quality and they’ve had a lot of work to do over the last month and a half until Le Mans, but we just showed up here and everything looks great,” Calderon told Sportscar365.
“Most of the crew remained the same so there’s not a lot of changes. I’m fully confident that we’ll be right up top. Most people won’t even know there’s a difference.”
Calderon, who becomes the highest-ranking Mexican involved in team management of a FIA-sanctioned championship, has been pleased with their effort in the opening rounds.
Gonzalez and co-drivers Bruno Senna and Audi factory driver on-loan Filipe Albuquerque took their Ligier JS P2 Nissan to a debut LMP2 class victory in the season-opener at Silverstone in April.
A fourth at Spa was followed by sixth place points at Le Mans, despite battling early race engine issues.
“We started out with a win right away and we’ve been very strong,” Calderon said. “Le Mans was probably the best race that we’ve had so far, even though the result didn’t show it.
“The team worked perfectly; we had perfect pit stops and the drivers were flawless. We come here with a lot of confidence.”
RGR Sport currently sits third in the title race entering this weekend’s Nürburgring round, which marks the final race before the inaugural Six Hours of Mexico in September, an event that Mexico’s only WEC team has a firm target on.
“Getting a result here will be huge for Mexico because that will be our personal Le Mans,” Calderon said. “It’s our biggest race and winning there would probably change our lives for many years.”
While team management may be a new role for Calderon, who is an Austin-based PR/marketing specialist and co-founder of Speed Group, it’s just one element of the upstart team that he’s focused on making a difference in.
“It’s been a very cool project that Ricardo has let me lead,” he said. “Things have changed over the last few months, and it’s been better than we could ever have imagined.
“The way that we have put this team together has been the way we think a team should be, with the driver lineup, the personalities involved and also the way we interact with the fans and do our branding and marketing.
“I feel that we’ve been very different and it’s been what I’ve always wanted to see from a team but have never really seen anyone else do it. It’s very cool to be able to lead that and hopefully create something different in the WEC.”