Friday, August 23, 2013

GT-D will see the most changes in USCR's debt season

 A continued discussion from this post, I hope your enjoying it and find it easy to follow along, I understand it can be confusing at times.

 Now where were we...

 Actually it was suggested by Cory over at that I shorten my blog post a bit, he believes many readers suffer from ADD. I don't think you can be a sports car racing fan and have ADD, it just wouldn't work.

 Anyway, we'll finish up with the ALMS GTC teams and I'll give you a final count of what the grid will look like next season.

 Last time I talked about the TRG and its switchover from Porsche to Aston Martin. I also talked about Alex Job Racing and the possibility of them switching from Porsche as well.

 If that happens, like it did in 2008 when Porsche was in triage mode and expanded support to Flying Lizard to three cars after Tafel Racing (there's a blast from the recent past huh?) left to join Ferrari (and give them a mighty run to the 2008 GT Championship). Porsche could be again in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar spot in the United States that they are not the prefered brand for endurance sports car racing.

 Especially with Mercedes Benz dominating the Endurance races this season. Bernd Schneider has had an unbelievable string of successes this season. Not only did he win the Nurburgring 24hr race, but the Dubai 24 to open the season, Bathurst 12 hr and finally the Spa 24 a few weeks ago.

 In fact if you don't count Porsche's victory at Le Mans which honestly was a bit tainted by Aston Martin's valiant run and death of Allan Simonsen, Porsche has not won a major international race this season. In fact they may not win any national championships of note this season. At least Manthey is defending International GT Open Champion but they aren't racing in that series this season, to focus on WEC and the factory Porsche effort.

 That just means there are several competitive marks/brands and all of them are interested in the merged series next year. In fact the only momentum towards next season seems to be in the slowest class, GT-D.

 With that in mind, where does that leave Flying Lizard, Patrick Dempsey and JDX Racing?

 I think we're about to see how deep Seth Neimans loyalty runs toward Porsche. Since they were not picked to run the Porsche factory effort in the WEC and Porsche was not going to release the 991 based car to customers yet, Flying Lizard severed their ties and for 2013 moved down to GTC where ironically you are forced to run Porsches. That mean losing the services of not just Jorg Bergmeister but also Patrick Long, as he scrambled to find work and landed rides with Park Place in Grand Am and Core Autosport in the ALMS.

 As the preeminent Porsche Semi-works team since 2007, it would be hard to imagine them going another direction.

 For Dempsey-Del Piero, entering GTC was viewed as a stopgap measure to keep his team together while Mazda sorted out its SkyActiv Diesel program that was originally slated to be installed in Dempsey's Lola Coupe. But that was not to be as the birth of the SkyActiv racing engine was difficult and that part of the program with Dempsey was scrubbed. They decided instead to reskin Speed Source's Mazda RX-8's to make them Mazda 6's since that was the car the SkyActiv diesel production engine was going to debut in.

 It was a failure from the start and thankfully will be shelved next season. But what does that mean for Patrick Dempsey for USCR and Le Mans?  If GX lap times are any indication, I don't think that is the direction they are going even if they go back to P2.

 He could just opt to stay in GT-D and this is where I believe a few Cup cars might make their way onto the GT-D grid next season.

 JDX Racing has no connections to Porsche but could be in line for one of the many Semi-works programs slated to be in GT-D next season. I know Audi, Bentley, SRT, Nissan and Benz are actively seeking partners (you buy the car, they supply the pro drivers  and tech support).

 The same goes for N-GT, even if they run in Yokohama Cup as well, that doesn't not signal any allegiance to the brand.

 My prediction is that one of these teams will not return for 2014 and that if there are less than 3 teams that want to run Cup cars next season, then there will be no Cup cars next season.

 No reason to balance what is possibly a of minimum of ten GT3 cars to one or two Cup cars

 As it stands I have at least 10 confirmed entries in GT-D, all FIA or upgraded Grand Am GT3 cars (Fall-Line, AJR, Black Swan, AIM, Scuderia Corsa & TRG-Aston Martin) based on present car count and historical norms.

 Its likely more and here's why -

  •  Fall Line has fallen back (no pun) to a one car effort (was two) in order to continue to develop the cars for next season (committed to USCR and GT-D). Its likely they will return with a two car effort and support from Audi (drivers/tech support). +1
  • Black Swan hasn't made it official yet but has expressed interest in at least a partial USCR schedule next season. +1
  • Peter LeSaffre (Green Hornet) has sold his SLS GT3 according to John Dagys. An announcement is expected soon +1
  • Global Motorsports Group (GMG) has competed in the ALMS GTC class before, they switched to Audi R8's this season in World Challenge, so I am going to assume we will see them a few times next season +1
  • Ben Keating is first buyer of the soon to be built SRT Viper GT3 car +1
  • Nissan is likely to enter a car for its current US GT Academy Winner Bryan Heitkotter as it has been doing with its other drivers in Blancpain and FIA GT +1
  • Bentley is actively looking for partners (semi works) +1
  • Elton Julian's Dragonspeed team has a Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Given Julian's history in the ALMS and the fact that he runs a LMPC car for somebody, I'm sure he would like to enter his Audi into GT-D

 Out of those seven, six are likely full season entries, well GMG is the likely part-time entry focusing on World Challenge.

 That means of the current total of 18 cars in GTC/Rolex GT combined, we'll have a field of at least 17-18 regular season entries, that could easily double for Sebring, Petit, Daytona and Watkins Glen.

We'll just have to see what happens...

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