While being known as one of the more eccentric teams in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship paddock, a serious, potentially game-changing decision is pending at Magnus Racing, which could see the team’s focus switch to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Speaking to Sportscar365, team owner/driver John Potter revealed that his longtime GRAND-AM turned IMSA squad is evaluating a potential move to the global stage next year.
“WEC of course is a really neat series,” Potter told Sportscar365. “It’s obviously known for Le Mans but when you look at the schedule and realize how many different continents they’re racing in, from South America, North America, Asia and Europe, every race is a neat event. It’s an interesting series… and is one of the many ideas that are being considered.”
Potter, whose team has claimed victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is exploring possible partnerships with existing teams and drivers, with the idea of fielding a Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class.
GTE-Am fits well for teams that require multiple sources of funding, as the class requires at least one Bronze-rated driver plus one Bronze or Silver per lineup. Potter is Silver-rated.
“Going in alone is always the easy way to do it, but financially it’s a big nut to crack,” Potter said. “I’ve talked to people about possible partnerships, whether it’d be sponsorship side or [funded] drivers. Everyone’s in the same position where this series is well liked.”
Potter has been keeping a close eye on the FIA WEC action this weekend at Circuit of The Americas to see what kind of resources it would take to be a championship-contending entry.
“It’s been a great learning experience for me this weekend,” he said. “It really shows the kind of equipment and expertise these kind of teams bring. It’s something that if we were ever to step up to, we’d have to make sure we’d be ready. We’d do it to win and not just to run for fun.”
While having claimed victory at Sebring this year, Potter and co-driver Andy Lally have slipped behind in the GT Daytona championship hunt, partially due to what he feels was unfair Balance of Performance with the Porsche 911 GT America, which has received multiple revisions over the course of the season.
“The Porsche has been a constantly evolving car, based on the rules changes we keep getting,” he said. “It’s obviously unfortunate that we didn’t have a more competitive car earlier in the season, honestly.
“The difficulty with BoP changes, the series would admit, and will admit, that [the recent changes] is a confession that the cars were out of balance previously.
“IMSA has definitely improved over the course of the year. I’m not saying it was ever in the toilet but it definitely could have been better and it has gotten better. But there’s still more to do.”
Potter said a return to the TUDOR Championship or a FIA WEC program are the team’s two leading choices at this point.
“Right now I’m open to all possibilities,” he said. “Maybe we can find something that works [in the TUDOR Championship]. I haven’t committed fully to anything next year but I’m looking at WEC possibilities, possibilities of being back here and other things.
“I like endurance racing. With all due respect to World Challenge, as I do respect them, the sprint race format isn’t probably what I’m looking for.”
Despite the 2014 season coming to a close, Potter isn’t concerned about making an immediate decision and is willing to give it some more serious thought in the coming weeks.
“The most intimidating thing about WEC is the international nature, the logistics side, transportation and putting everything together. In IMSA, we can throw together a TUDOR program relatively easy. With WEC, you have until March, basically.”
Magnus is one of at least five TUDOR Championship teams, including Extreme Speed Motorsports, Dempsey Racing and RSR Racing that’s evaluating FIA WEC programs for next year.
If they all materialize, it would result in a significant influx of American content in the championship, which could have additional rounds in North America next year.