Clearwater Racing is set to take a “total pause” from GT racing after next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to the team’s managing director Arj Kulasegaram.
The Singaporean squad, which was founded in 2006, has no firm plans to return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for a third season in the GTE-Am category.
Kulasegaram told Sportscar365 that the team is looking to “take a break” after 13 consecutive years competing at various levels of the sports car pyramid.
The team ran its co-founder Weng Sun Mok alongside Keita Sawa and AF Corse driver Matt Griffin in the opening five rounds of the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ until Mok’s retirement after the Six Hours of Shanghai in November.
Griffin was the only member of that trio to continue for the final three rounds, with Matteo Cressoni and Luis Perez Companc joining from the 1000 Miles of Sebring onwards.
It’s understood that this driver lineup switch was instigated by AF Corse team principal Amato Ferrari, whose organization helps run the Clearwater Ferrari 488 GTE.
“At the moment, this Le Mans will be Clearwater Racing’s last for the foreseeable future,” Kulasegaram told Sportscar365.
“It really becomes a case of what I want to do after that. To be honest, we’ve had a good long innings in racing. When I started with Weng, I thought it was going to last three seasons and that would be it.
“I never expected it to run for 12 years, and then some. I’m very proud of what we’ve done and the way we’ve done it.
“Certainly, if I can continue it in the same manner in which we’ve done it so far, I’ll think seriously about doing it again. But I think it’s a nice point to put a punctuation marker and go, ‘This has been a lot of fun and we’ve accomplished a lot.'”
Clearwater made the step up to the GTE class in 2016 when it finished fourth on its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Mok, Sawa and Rob Bell driving a Ferrari 458 Italia GT2.
This came after an extensive tenure in GT3 that saw the team claim race wins in the Asian Le Mans Series and Blancpain GT Asia with Ferrari and McLaren machinery.
“I think we’re going to take a total pause after Le Mans and have a serious think,” said Kulasegaram when asked about the team’s short to medium-term plans.
“It’s been 13 seasons on the go and I think it’s time to take a break, regroup and see where we are on the other side of it.
“Even if we never did a single motor race after Le Mans – and that’s never going to be the case – I stand by the body of what we’ve done so far.
“I’m very proud to have been associated with so many wonderful people who have got us to where we are today.”
Kulasegaram suggested that he will continue to monitor the international GT racing scene and would be interested in future outings in previously unexplored series, like the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“If you love GT racing and you’ve had your fill of Blancpain and sprint, and you want to push yourself to the ultimate tier of GT racing – 100 percent that’s WEC,” he said.
“The only thing we haven’t tried is IMSA. Maybe that’s one thing that will get us to come back and try something else.
“I think GTLM would be something that would interest me. I’ve always fancied racing in America and people speak so highly of it.
“Everyone says it’s a wonderful environment in which to race. Having watched Daytona many times, I can agree with it. That’s the one thing left that we haven’t done.”
Le Mans Debut “Lit the Fire” for WEC
Kulasegaram revealed that Clearwater’s 2016 Le Mans debut paved the way for its wider involvement in GTE which started the following year when it signed up for a full WEC program.
It took a class victory in its first-ever six-hour WEC race at Silverstone before going on to clinch the team’s championship at the end of the season.
“We just started out as a little local outfit and we grew very quickly,” he said.
“The driving force behind that is all Weng. Sometimes it frightened me how quick he wanted to grow the team, but he was right. I never ever thought we would end up in the WEC.
“When we first did Le Mans we had such a good time with Rob and Sawa and Weng, with our guys and the AF [Corse] guys. I think that lit the fire under Weng and he said OK to WEC.
“I’m very grateful that he did because having done two complete seasons of WEC has taught us an awful lot.”