Eurasia Motorsport team principal Mark Goddard says their preparations for the Total 6 Hours of Spa have ‘definitely not been normal’ having not seen their car or equipment for most of the year.
The Malaysian-based team will be on the grid at next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa with its Ligier JS P217 Gibson despite the travel difficulties surrounding COVID-19.
The ACO has worked to grant non-Europe based teams travel ban exemptions to arrive for the race, with most of the Eurasia crew based in the Philippines, while its drivers Nobuya Yamanaka and Daniel Gaunt are from Japan and New Zealand, respectively.
Eurasia’s equipment and LMP2 car have been sitting in a warehouse in Antwerp, Belgium, since March after being shipped to Europe at the end of the Asian Le Mans Series season in anticipation of the original 6H Spa date in April.
“Well not normal that’s for sure,” Goddard told Sportscar365 of the preparations for Spa.
“The cars and equipment were shipped straight after Asian Le Mans at Sepang because originally Spa was going to be in April.
“So the last time we saw anything was way back at the end of February and now the cars are in a warehouse in Belgium waiting for us to arrive.
“Obviously with travel bans in place it hasn’t been possible for us to fly yet but the ACO has worked very hard on obtaining exemptions for non-EU teams.
“We now have one [and] we’re just waiting to get the visas now to go to France and we’ll be in Europe the first week of August, which will give us very little time to prepare the car. But we’ll be on the grid at Spa.”
The team’s driver lineup for Spa has also been shuffled due to travel restrictions with Nick Cassidy, who was originally slated to drive, now set to miss the event entirely.
If Cassidy were to leave Japan, where he is currently based, he would not be able to get back into the country to fulfill his Super GT and Super Formula commitments due to travel bans on foreign residents.
Therefore, Eurasia has had to source a European-based driver to join Yamanaka and Gaunt in the car, with the replacement also set to remain with the LMP2 outfit at Le Mans.
“The problem has been travel bans,” Goddard explained. “I don’t think it’s a secret that Nick Cassidy was meant to be in the car — he’s based in Japan and earns a living out of doing Super GT and Super Formula and right now if he leaves Japan he won’t be allowed back in.
“So that’s, unfortunately, him out of the equation. We do have a driver now but it will be announced on Wednesday.
“He’s European-based so he doesn’t have a problem with getting out or back into his home country.”
Yamanaka on the other hand has a “travel ban exemption” as he is a Japanese citizen and will be able to return to his home country. However, it’s not known whether he will go back in-between rounds or stay in Europe.
Pressure on Cost-Cutting
While Goddard agreed that teams are excited for the return of racing, he highlighted the seriousness around the need to cut costs amid the uncertain times.
“We’re looking forward to getting our racing programs back underway for this year with LMP2 and TCR Asia, but taking into account the times, organizers need to be reducing costs,” he said.
“I know we’re not the only team pushing for it. The ACO is doing a great job and we should be using the current circumstances to think even further outside the box.”
The sixth round of the WEC season and the championship’s first race in sixth months takes place on Aug. 15.