After a challenging start to his GTE-Am title chase, which included being forced to miss the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Enzo Potolicchio has pulled out of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship as a driver.
The 8Star Motorsports team owner, who won the 2012 LMP2 title and was runner-up in the GTE-Am drivers’ championship last year, has elected to focus on his team’s efforts in North America, while putting the pieces in place for a possible expanded program in 2015.
“After having bad results in the first two races and missing Le Mans, it makes no sense to continue with myself driving for the rest of the season,” Potolicchio told Sportscar365. “I’ll probably just regroup for next year and try to sell my seat for the rest of the races for people that want to do one-offs, so the car can maybe continue in the championship.”
The AF Corse-run No. 90 Ferrari F458 Italia GT finished fourth at Le Mans with Italians Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda plus Frankie Montecalvo, who filled in for the Venezuelan owner/driver.
Potolicchio said he’s now working to ensure the car, which remains under the 8Star banner, will complete the balance of the season with funded drivers.
On the U.S. front, Potolicchio said 8Star will likely serve in a supporting role in the North American debut of the Ligier JS P2, which is expected to contest the final two TUDOR United SportsCar Championship rounds of the season with OAK Racing.
Plans for an 8Star-run Ligier, as was originally announced in April, is still an option for 2015, along with additional programs alongside its current Prototype Challenge and IMSA Prototype Lites efforts.
“We announced [the Ligier] and we’re still working on that program,” Potolicchio said. “We have other options for next year, in different series. We’re going to make a team decision, between myself, our team manager and our engineer, on choosing the right place to go racing.
“We hope we can continue with what we have and add something else to the program that can attract more customers. There’s a lot of options out there. Pirelli World Challenge is doing very well. Indy Lights is looking pretty good with the new chassis.
“We’ll try to make a decision by October to see where we’re going and how we’ll sell our programs.”
On the driving front, Potolicchio said he’s exploring options overseas for 2015, which would see a program run under the 8Star banner, but with the assistance of a European-based team.
“The European Le Mans Series has continued to be attractive and is growing a lot,” Potolicchio said. “We’re looking at that also and have some customers that want to do something there. There’s a lot of options and a lot of people have approached us.”
Potolicchio said he wouldn’t rule out a continued alliance with OAK Racing, which currently runs its U.S. operation out of 8Star’s Florida shop. 8Star also provides equipment and logistics support to the French squad.
“Maybe we’d do the same thing we do with OAK just reversed the other way,” he said. “When I did [WEC] in 2012, we opened a shop in Wales. We had great results but it was the most expensive way to do it.
“Definitely having an association with people that have infrastructure in Europe will be a better way.”