FIA World Endurance Championship debutant Vector Sport was formed on a “blank piece of paper” for its first season in the LMP2 class, according to team principal Gary Holland.
The Silverstone-based outfit recently secured a place on the 2022 WEC grid with an Oreca 07 Gibson that will be driven by Nico Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Cullen.
Last year former Dragon Penske Autosport Formula E team manager Holland was at the helm of a group that ran a Risi Competizione-badged LMP2 entry at two WEC races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, however the Vector Sport project is a fresh venture.
Vector Sport will debut at next month’s 1000 Miles of Sebring, where Mike Rockenfeller will sub for Bourdais who is being prioritized in the 12-hour IMSA race that weekend.
“Vector Sport truly is a new team and a new company,” Holland told Sportscar365.
“It’s new in every sense, although there are some familiar faces around it. It’s a blank piece of paper.
“We’ve acquired the car which the team owns. That puts us in a fortunate position where we can go out and get the drivers we want, rather than those who we have to bring in for a huge level of funding.
“I’ve worked with all of the drivers previously to different levels so I think we know how they will gel and the level of professionalism they will bring.”
Mueller and Holland previously worked together at Dragon Penske, while Bourdais and Holland teamed up under Risi Competizione’s Le Mans GTE-Pro entry in 2020.
Cullen, meanwhile, drove and had an ownership affiliation with the Risi Oreca that ran last year and has come on board as Vector Sport’s designated Silver-rated driver.
“Ryan’s only involvement is as our Silver driver,” Holland explained.
“He’s got his personal sponsors, the same as other guys have got theirs. We were approached by other Silvers, but I believe some of them have reached their peak performance, and I think we’ve got better potential.
“It also helps the attitude and mindset. There is a general calmness around the team which I’m very impressed with. Everyone knows what they’re doing and all the guys, drivers included, help to bring that level of calmness.
“Every WEC team is going to have something go wrong. It’s how we deal with it in a calm and methodical fashion which will dictate how we do. All of these aspects pointed us towards Ryan.
“The guys all have the performance, but it’s the extra bit: what they bring in terms of attitude and ability. It’s about the level of professionalism that they bring along – that is a big driving factor.”
Vector Sport has recruited a team backroom staff with prior WEC and LMP2 experience.
Among the key hires noted by Holland is race engineer Jamie Gomeche, who previously worked as Rockenfeller’s DTM race engineer at Phoenix Racing and has also been with JOTA in LMP2 and Dragon in Formula E.
Additionally, former Carlin engineer James Goodfield has joined Vector Sport as its performance engineer, after forming part of the Risi Competizione setup last year.
The newly-formed team received its brand-new Oreca in late October and conducted a test with its full-time drivers at Almeria in the first week of January.
It has also been performing systems checks at Turweston Aerodrome, an airfield near Silverstone that was previously a favorite shakedown spot for Strakka Racing.
“We had a pretty comprehensive test schedule lined up, but shipping dates scuppered that and we had to alter our schedule slightly, making it a bit more compressed than we would have ideally liked,” Holland explained.
“We found [Almeria] to be not only a good test for car, crew and drivers, but just good all-round.
“It was a place nobody had been to before. There were no pre-conceived ideas. For Nico and Ryan, neither have been to Sebring so it was useful for them to get up to speed at a track they’ve never been to before.
“We ran through all the procedural stuff. The guys all gelled very well. We did some pretty strong performance work alongside pit work. We’re pretty content with where we’re at going into Sebring.
“Of course we won’t know until we get there. Everyone has their limitations: some of ours was freight but we’ve worked with what we had and we’re in a very good place going forward.”
Although some members of the Vector Sport team worked on the Risi Competizione entry, Holland doesn’t view last year’s exploits as a precursor to this new project.
“You take experiences from everywhere you’ve been, so there are little bits that will have subconsciously gone in, but there is nothing that stands out as an absolutely mega learning point,” he said.
“It’s a different approach with the fact that we’re entering for the season. The approach is very much for a championship, rather than coming in and being heroes.”
LMP2 Chosen for “Best Team Wins” Appeal
Holland explained that Vector Sport selected the LMP2 class for its first season of competition because of how the category highlights the abilities of teams.
The organization is hoping to demonstrate its potential in its first WEC season with a view to opening doors that could lead to program evolutions over the long term.
“LMP2 is a known,” said Holland, who worked as JOTA’s WEC team manager in the past. “We don’t have to deal with the political aspects of BoP and playing that game.
“At this stage of the game, LMP2 is perfect for us because it is ‘best team wins’.
“LMP2 is a performance-led model for a team – it’s a known set of costs. I personally have experience of what it takes to run a car and a WEC team over the course of a season. Because it’s performance-led, it’s a good stepping stone for us to go into other avenues.
“Because it’s ‘best team wins’, it showcases the team going forward. I’m not going to claim that there are LMDh deals in the offing: we’re concentrated first and foremost on our one-car WEC program. We would like to look at a future expansion of that, whether it’s in LMP2 or GTs.
“I think the LMDh market is clamoring for what is limited availability. LMP2 showcases the team and is a great place for us to start, and hopefully prove our worth.”