While having initially been tabbed for a European LMP2 effort, 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Champion Frankie Montecalvo has shifted his focus towards a return to the U.S.-based sprint-race championship with his Mercedes this year.
The 25-year-old New Jersey native, who scored seven class victories in his DragonSpeed-entered Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, was originally announced as a driver for the team’s Oreca 05 effort in the European Le Mans Series.
However, with those plans falling through last month, and having parted ways with the Elton Julian-owned team, Montecalvo is now in discussions with a number of new teams to field his gull-winged GT3 contender in PWC this year.
“It was a great year with the Mercedes,” Montecalvo told Sportscar365. “I think I fit well into its driving characteristics and style. It’s a great car; I love it.
“I would really like to build off what we learned with the car last year in Am and continue to race it in Pro. I think that would be a good stepping stone for me. I’m hoping we can make it work.”
After enjoying a dominant season in the GTA ranks, Montecalvo said he’s expecting to be moved up to the GT class this year, which would present a new challenge in the competitive professional ranks.
“The driver lineups in the pro class are some of the best in the world,” he said. “Johnny O’Connell and Patrick Long are in there now. I’d be racing with the best of the best, so to say.
‘We definitely had our races where we were strong last year and were battling out with some of the pros, so I think that was a good learning experience.
“I always love racing those guys because they race clean and professional. As long as we can continue to learn the car, I think we can definitely have some podiums this year.”
While having kicked off his 2016 season in last weekend’s Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai in a Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Montecalvo is hoping to have an answer soon about the remainder of his plans.
He admitted it could also include races in the Blancpain GT Series, thanks to him having retained Silver driver rating by the FIA for 2016.
“We’re trying to make [a decision] as soon as we can,” Montecalvo said. “After Dubai, we’re going to have a lot more conversations with the sponsors and everything going into this year.
“I love racing in the U.S. It’s home for me and where it all started for me. I’d like to make [PWC] happen first and hopefully some other stuff added on in Europe.
“Hopefully within the next two weeks, we’ll have a definitive answer.”