GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s Jon Fogarty is excited at the prospects of a championship attack in Pirelli World Challenge with the team’s new McLaren 650S GT3.
The Texas-based squad announced last week that it will step up to top-level PWC competition with the mid-engined sports car in 2016, following an initial two-race program in GTS this year with a self-built Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
“For me and obviously GAINSCO, to be able to run in GT, the premier category in Pirelli World Challenge, is a much better fit, for the company and for the team,” Fogarty told Sportscar365.
“GAINSCO has always done a great job of activating their sponsorship and it’s going to be a good fit for them.
“McLaren GT has a long history in racing. As a driver, the name McLaren, all the way back to Bruce McLaren, is a company that’s born out of racing.
“It’s very cool to be running with their 650S GT3. It’s going to be a competitive car no doubt and I’m really excited to get behind the wheel.”
The two-time GRAND-AM champion, who spent 2015 with Tequila Patron ESM in the FIA World Endurance Championship, said his World Challenge program with GAINSCO/BSR will be his primary focus.
It will mark a return to a single-driver, sprint-race format the 40-year-old Californian enjoyed success in the open-wheel ranks, prior to his switch to sports car racing in 2005.
While Stallings evaluated multiple GT3 car options, Fogarty said the strength of the McLaren 650S GT3, which scored four wins this year in the hands of K-PAX with Flying Lizard Motorsports and factory driver Kevin Estre, provided the best overall package.
“We feel the performance of the car, the support, their customer-focused approach is going to be beneficial and is going to put is in the best situation,” he said.
“As of now, I think there’s going to be three of us competing, which is good to have a number of cars out there.
“In a series like World Challenge, you’re always going to come up against BoP considerations, and to be able to work with another team and have more information is going to be good.
“We’re going racing, so a car that’s capable is your number one priority. I think the McLaren platform is superior.
“You also want to always have some reserve built into the car and I think it also has that in spades.”
The team recently took delivery of its 650S GT3, with plans currently being formalized for a two-day test in conjunction with McLaren GT engineers and a factory driver to help acclimate themselves to the new car.
Despite the freshness of the overall program, Fogarty hasn’t hidden his desires to make a title run in 2016.
“The number one focus is the championship but I have to be realistic in the challenges we’ll face in being a new car and series to the team,” he said.
“But in saying that, it’s a North American championship and I’m going to tracks that, for the most part, I’m pretty intimate with.
“Hopefully with enough pre-season testing, we’re able to wrap our heads around the car and we can go focus on winning races.”
While World Challenge will be GAINSCO/BSR’s primary focus next year, Fogarty said he wouldn’t rule out additional events in the future, should the car become eligible for other series, such as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“At this point, you can’t really race it in IMSA,” Fogarty said. “Obviously that would be wonderful if that was open to us.
“I’m not sure how the whole manufacturer situation works but I do believe it’s probably on their radar at McLaren to make that available.
“They want to sell cars and I think there’s a potential to do that in IMSA. If you could run the endurance races plus Pirelli World Challenge, it would be good to go back and forth.
“We’ve been in IMSA in the past and it’s somewhere we’d like to go again in the future if it makes sense. We’ll see what happens.”