Thursday, October 10, 2013

TUCSS Oversubscribed? North American Endurance Championship the Alternative? Update!

That seems to be the thinking in Daytona Beach.

 Given all the information I have found, it looks like the 60 car threshold will be met. Currently Daytona has 60 pit stalls on pit lane and 74 garage spaces. 

 According to various sources including Graham Goodwin of Dailysportscar, some European P2 teams may not be extended an invite to the series opening round. The reason given is the expected capacity of GT-D to be about 20 cars, if not more. 

 Right now I count about 54 cars committed to the new series full-time, which is why they went forward with the split races at Long Beach, Detroit and VIR.

 Pickett Racing has yet to confirm but will be staying in the series at least for 2014 and already confirmed Stevenson Motorsports departure.

 That leaves only six spots.

 The only fly in the ointment is the approximate 30% increase in budget needed to run the new 12 race series (11 races for Pro Am classes and 11 races for Pro Classes actually).

 Who will fill those extra spots?

 The likely order is; season entries get priority. Then those entries for the North American Endurance Championship (NEC) and finally the one-off's.

 I mentioned before since the WEC season doesn't start until April 18th at Silverstone, both Daytona and Sebring would be excellent tune ups for the coming season. I believe some teams will skip the ELMS all together to run in the much tougher US series.

 Driver Johnny Mowlem on Mid-Week Motorsport said his team, 2013 ELMS GT Champions Ram Racing is looking very hard at the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. They would love to do it, if they can find the budget. Its likely if they don't do the entire series, they may opt for the NEC and Le Mans, which would require shipping the car over twice but overall that is cheaper than a WEC season or full TUSCC campaign.

 Paul Dalla Lana who is unhappy with the way WEC is run generally left his Aston Martin Vantage GTLM car in America after the WEC COTA event (in which the ALMS outdrew WEC much to this dismay of ACO/WEC management), is likely to also run the entire Tudor Championship. 

 AF Corse has said it would like to do the NEC as well.

 Among the Prototypes, I know Murphy, TDS and Greaves are all interested. I believe Greaves will partner with Chris Dyson for a full season, while Dyson Racing sorts out what its long range plans are. Chris has said its unlikely they will buy a new chassis since their budget called for a three year program with their Lola. IE they hadn't planned on buying a new car and don't have the budget for it. At COTA it was mentioned by Rob Dyson that its likely they will develop their own engine for P2 (via AER which they own) but its unlikely to be ready by the start of next year.

 So if you count three prototypes, two extra Ferrari's in GTLM, its likely only one spot left and who that gets that is anybody's guess, but I'll say Dalla Lana and his Aston Martin Vantage.

 *Update #1 

 It seems intentionally (or not) John Dagys has mentioned in his post-race report for the final Petit Le Mans that Scott Tucker had raced for his final victory and championship in the ALMS which we knew was ending but does that mean the 2-time P2 champ, 2-time LMPC champ is considering the world stage (FIA WEC)?

 I wouldn't blame him if he did.... I don't remember where I read it, but it seems Mr. Tucker lobbied for the new merged Prototype class to remain Pro-Am to allow Gentlemen drivers like himself and equalize the competition with that requirement.

 That will not happen in the new series because despite P2 being a Pro Am class in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS or LMS) and World Endurance championship (WEC) it will be fully professional in the US. There will be no more Trueman Award (Grand Am) for best Gentlemen racer (that I know of).

 So for people like him and Tracy Krohn for example, you have a few choices.

  •  Prototype Challenge (since he's a previous champion I doubt this, even if he ordered a new cars already)
  •  Prototype 2 in WEC/ELMS - More than likely WEC since ELMS is a much weaker series than the ALMS or what the Tudor Championship will be.

 I would mention GT series like Blancpain but I think its obvious he's not interested in running GT cars at this point in his career.

 So my money is on Tucker wanting to continue to drive will go to the WEC next season. The competition depth will be greater than it was this season, so it will be good for his team to move on.

 While I always thought Tucker for next year was a bit of a question mark, I didn't think ordering LMPC cars meant much. It could be just a business opportunity to rent out chassis to drivers since for logistical reasons, he won't using his US based transporters or shops if he races in WEC. It is likely he'll have a satellite base camp in Europe somewhere since the majority of races are in Europe (Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans including Test Day) as are most if not all the teams.

 It could very well be an arrive and drive scenario, stay tuned to see if I'm right.

 *Update #2 

 I've created an editable table to keep track of next year's entries. If you know of any information before I find out (I check around the net daily), feel free to edit the table.

 Here's the link 

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