With the dawn of a new era in American sports car racing, a number of European-based P2 teams have expressed interest in next year’s United SportsCar Racing enduros at Daytona and Sebring. But like their U.S.-based counterparts, some are waiting on the final technical regulations and other assurances before committing to the season-opening rounds.
One of those teams is OAK Racing, the current P2 points leaders in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The French squad, fresh off class victory a Le Mans, are no strangers to American racing, having made numerous starts at Sebring and Petit Le Mans over the last three years.
“It’s the complete regulations we need, not just the regulations just for P2,” OAK Racing team manager Sebastien Philippe told Sportscar365. “We need to know what’s going on with the Daytona Prototype cars and what changes they will make on those cars. Because we will compete against them, so we need to know before making any decisions.”
OAK’s OnRoak Automotive-designed Morgan-Nissan was the first modern-era P2 car to turn laps at Daytona, when Conquest Racing took part in a test late last year with Continental Tire. Continental was later named the exclusive tire provider for the combined P2/DP class.
While IMSA confirmed in July that the P2 regs will remain within the ACO rulebook, with only minor modifications expected, Philippe says time is running out in order for his team, along with prospective customers of the Morgan P2 chassis, to pull the trigger.
With pre-season testing to begin in November, OAK has set a deadline of the end of this month in order to commit to Daytona with cars of their own. Philippe said that’s dependent on the release of the regulations by that time in order to ensure P2 cars would be competitive.
“For us, but also for our customers because there are plenty of people waiting at the moment,” Philippe said. “They are not sure where it is going to go. Everybody’s waiting at the moment. The thing is that it takes time to build up cars and we are almost running out of time now. This is one of the major problems.
“It’s a shame because I think everyone wants to do it. It’s a really nice championship with very nice races. But there are too many question marks at the moment and it’s on both sides.
“For the [U.S.] teams, it’s the same situation. We have been talking with some people who are running in prototypes and DPs and these guys don’t even know which way is the right way to go.”
Greaves Motorsport is another prospective P2 team that’s eyeing a program for Daytona. According to team principal Tim Greaves, they have two “seriously interested” drivers for the USCR season-opener, but are waiting on assurances from the series, both from a safety and costs standpoint.
“To me, it’s unrealistic to try and force the DPs to be quicker, or as quick, in lap time,” Greaves said. “The first year, they should sit them back with the GTs and move on from there. Otherwise, I think the general consensus is that if you’re in the P2 class, it’s going to get very expensive, very quickly.
“Change costs lots of money. And it’s not the cost of the change but the cost of the testing to prove the changes are safe.”
While a firm commitment for Daytona has yet to be made, Greaves is 90 percent certain they’ll have at least one of their Zytek Z11N Nissans at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, a circuit the British squad has previous experience on.
In addition to OAK and Greaves, it’s understood other European-based P2 teams, including Jota Sport and Murphy Prototypes are also taking a look at being on the grid at Daytona.
It’s still unclear how many P2s will contest the entire championship next year. Extreme Speed Motorsports, with its pair of HPD ARX-03b cars, are the only confirmed entrants thus far, although there appears to be considerable interest from other teams.