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Madpanda Gearing Up for Expanded Two-Car Program

Madpanda Motorsport undergoing expansion for third season; GT Masters being considered…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Madpanda Motorsport has “a lot of ideas” on the table for its expansion to a two-car GT3 operation next year, according to team principal and driver Ezequiel Companc.

The Barcelona-based outfit, which recently won the Silver Cup class at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, has fielded a single Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS since its inception at the start of last year.

Madpanda will expand to a pair of cars in 2022 and is also looking beyond GTWC Europe, with an ADAC GT Masters effort being considered in addition to its SRO project.

The team is also hoping to develop young driving talents and is planning a series of winter tests to evaluate potential future members, including TCR ace Franco Girolami.

“The idea at the moment is to have two cars,” Companc told Sportscar365.

“We haven’t confirmed the brand – it looks like it’s going to be Mercedes – but we’re still open to other opportunities.

“We are doing a junior test at the end of October. We are interested in drivers who are experienced in other series and have potential and talent. We want to try them and see if they can earn a seat.

“We have some plans for development and a lot of ideas that we want to try next year.

“Everybody in the team feels part of the results and growing together. We do a lot of brainstorming and trying a lot of ideas. Many are working really well, and we expect to be even more at the top next year.”

The expansion to two cars will come with changes to the team’s structure, but Companc explained that the squad he has built up over the last two years is well-positioned to shuffle into the extra roles.

Madpanda bases its GT3 program within the facility of QEV Technologies, meaning that its upgrade to a pair of vehicles won’t require much additional infrastructure.

“The nice thing about having two cars is that, in terms of costs, it’s better because you can compensate,” said Companc.

“You don’t need everything doubled [although] structure-wise you do, for the trucks and cars. In terms of mechanics, I’m really pleased with how they’re working.

“It’s really easy from that side to split them between two cars. At the moment, from all the mechanics we have, there are four who could easily be chief mechanics. They’re really reliable.

“They showed it in Monza when we did a record-breaking engine change. We broke the engine in qualifying and had four hours until the race. Mercedes-AMG said we would have no chance to change it because the top teams change it in five and a half hours to the circuit, but we did it in three and a half.

“I’m super happy to go to a second car, because we already know how we’re going to divide the crew and the engineers.

“We have a lot of engineers coming from the academy. They grew a lot over the last two years so they’re ready to jump to the next step.”

GT Masters is a new series option for Madpanda, although the team has yet to decide its final commitments for 2022.

Companc suggested that if Madpanda continues in GTWC Europe, as is expected in at least one of the two series, its entry will continue to race in the Silver Cup class.

“We are also looking at doing GT Masters with one car,” he said.

“It is still in the air. We still have a couple of months to decide the way we go, in terms of which championships we do. Nothing is decided.

“It’s nice because there are no clashes between SRO and GT Masters. For me, it’s the best sprint competition in the world currently and has the best teams and the best drivers.

“We want to prove ourselves there. I think we can have some really interesting results, so if we have the possibility to do it, why not?”

Companc Considering Step Back from Racing

Amid his team’s expansion plans for next year, Companc is thinking about stepping down from his driving role to focus on managing the enlarged Madpanda organization.

Companc won the 24 Hours of Spa alongside his co-drivers Patrick Kujala, Ricardo Sanchez and Rik Breukers, who was his full-time driver in both Endurance and Sprint.

When asked if he will return to Madpanda Motorsport’s lineup in 2022, Companc said: “At the moment it looks like not.

“Maybe it’s my last race [in Barcelona], so let’s see. This will be decided in the next weeks.

“When you grow bigger with two cars, it’s more demanding. Also if we’re going to be doing GT Masters we’re going to be running around Europe a lot. So for sure I will not be able to drive.

“I want to remain competitive, but if my main job of managing the team compromises my driving, I will be the first one to step down.

“Team-wise, we have been improving race by race. The package we have been bringing to every race weekend has been mega. In terms of results, we could not prove what we were capable of this year, but at Spa we did.

“For next year, we want to keep growing and reaching for more. We haven’t reached our top yet.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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