RGR Sport will not return to the FIA World Endurance Championship this year, the Mexican squad confirmed Monday, citing the worsening economic situation in its homeland and team owner Ricardo Gonzalez’s increased business commitments.
The team enjoyed a breakout rookie season in WEC competition, scoring a pair of class victories and finishing second in the LMP2 World Championship, with its Ligier JS P2 Nissan for Gonzalez, Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque.
However, according to the owner/driver, a full-season commitment is not possible this year, despite continued efforts to put together a program.
“Looking at the worldwide economics, things are pretty tough, especially in Mexico,” Gonzalez told Sportscar365. “For myself, it’s also a very important year for my personal businesses.
“So the combination of those two factors, it was important for me to take a sabbatical and spend more time on my own projects.
“Obviously this is not the way we wanted to do this year but we’re definitely looking forward to what we can do in the future.”
Team manager Toni Calderon explained the worsening economic situation over the last two or three months, tied to the U.S. Presidential election, played a key factor in their decision.
“For us, the problem was not only that it’s more difficult now but the uncertainty of how much worse it can get,” Calderon told Sportscar365.
“So when you’re committing to big budgets in Euros, its quite difficult, not to mention that some of our biggest sponsors came from the Mexican government.
“We needed to follow up, at least as strong as we were last year, and for us to do a half-assed program with not the right budgets and people didn’t make any sense.
“So we decided it was best to step back, regroup and take a break and see what we can do the future and how we can come back strong again.”
Calderon said they haven’t ruled out potentially entering selected races this year as they regroup for 2018.
“I wouldn’t rule out doing something this year in another series, or a couple of one-offs in WEC,” he said. “And you never know, there may be some kind of crazy opportunities outside of sports car racing we’ll look at.
“A year ago, nobody knew what RGR Sport was, literally the name didn’t even exist.
“To suddenly have such a successful year and create such a big brand in motorsports… is something we’ve been very proud of and want to continue.
“I want to thank OAK Racing, Jacques Nicolet and Philippe Dumas and their whole team for their support because they’re the ones that gave us the technical support to give us the results we got on track.
“I also have to thank Bruno and Filipe, because I think they’re the two best two LMP2 drivers in the world and without them, we couldn’t have had the wins, and thanks to the marketing teams and fans as well. It was a very special year.”
It’s understood the team’s decision will not impact the Six Hours of Mexico race, which is also promoted by Gonzalez but under a separate entity.
RGR Sport’s sabbatical, however, will likely result in the absence of the Ligier JS P217 Gibson from the WEC grid, at least on a full-time basis.
Plans for a WRT-entered Ligier are believed to not have materialized by last week’s entry deadline, potentially resulting in an all-Oreca LMP2 grid.
The full-season WEC entry list, as well as the 60 invites entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be announced on Thursday.