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Prototypes on HRT’s Radar; Near-Term Focus on GTs

HRT keeping options open for future prototype effort amid focus on GT racing…

Photo: HRT

Haupt Racing Team CEO Ulrich Fritz says the German squad is fully focused on its GT racing endeavors in the short-term future but remains interested in prototype racing despite opting against a potential LMP2 effort for this year.

HRT was founded in 2020 by racing driver and property entrepreneur Hubert Haupt and has been running Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos at the Pro and customer levels since then.

It also evaluated an LMP2 program for the 2022 season that was driven by an aspiration to be involved in top-level prototype racing, however this did not materialize.

Fritz told Sportscar365 that HRT instead plans to expand into GT4 next year alongside its ongoing GT3 program with Mercedes-AMG, although prototypes remain on the radar.

The team currently runs GT3 cars in the DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup and at the Nürburgring.

“We wanted to set the strategy right on what we know best: GT3,” said Fritz.

“What is also very appealing to us, is to enter Le Mans once there is the possibility for GT3 cars. And also maybe looking at higher classes one day like LMDh, once these customer programs are coming into place.

“Mercedes-AMG are not currently planning to do [LMDh] so it’s difficult to be a factory-supported team on the one side with them, where we are very happy, and maybe looking to other manufacturers for LMDh. But we have to see.

“Our focus at the moment is to do GT3 right and become one of the benchmark teams in this sport and compete in different categories.

“What would make sense a lot is to look at the other side of the GT program. That means GT4, for example, to at least run a car at the Nürburgring and maybe also do DTM Trophy and educate drivers.”

Fritz explained that meetings were held with LMP2 suppliers regarding an entry into the formula this year, but ultimately team management felt the “timing was not right”.

He pointed to the remaining lifespan of the current LMP2 regulations as a limiting factor. The current cars are now valid through to the end of 2024.

The rise of LMDh and LMH has led to some teams establishing LMP2 programs to mobilize themselves for a move to the new top echelon, such as WRT and Team Penske.

“The problem was that LMP2 would have been a very short life-cycle of the car,” said Fritz, who confirmed that car availability was not a factor in HRT’s decision.

“Investing all of this without having a manufacturer behind, and then maybe compromising what we do in GT3, didn’t sound right to us.

“That’s why we said, at that point in time, let’s not follow this road and let’s focus on GT3 for now. And then have a look at what we can do afterwards.

“Having said that, it doesn’t mean we are not interested in doing it or that we have put it completely aside. Let’s first of all get the main business rolling and then grow from there.”

The call not to enter LMP2 could potentially harm HRT’s chances of working its way into the top-level prototype arena, but Fritz believes the door is not fully closed.

“It also opens up new chances to see who offers the best product,” he suggested.

“I think that is also something which could make sense. We have to see how things develop; there is a big hype with LMDh and LMH. But I think it is also an opportunity to look into what is happening there.

“I think a well thought-out business strategy is always better than jumping into things that can easily go down the drain and cost a lot of money. But it may well be that other teams see it differently and are prepared to take more risk.

“I hope that it pays out, but nobody can promise that it pays out.”

On the GT3 side, HRT hasn’t ruled out returning to the Pro ranks of GTWC Europe next year, however the team views that championship as a place to nurture a customer-led program while the DTM and Nürburgring 24 enable it to field Pro entries.

“We didn’t want to mingle it up,” said Fritz. “Because once you have a Pro lineup there, you focus a lot on that and tend to step back [from] the paying customers a bit.”

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

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