INDIANAPOLIS - Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has turned to ORECA to lead its effort in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
In addition to a world-class winning car, the team will be counting on its same Championship winning driver pairing for its #6 Muscle Milk ORECA/Nissan prototype entry with Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr both returning full-time to the team.
The Muscle Milk squad will be the first one to campaign an ORECA 03 LMP2 car powered by Nissan full time in the United States. Since its debut in competition in 2011, the ORECA 03 has currently won on 18 occasions in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, including 10 in 13 races this past season.
It will be the first time that both Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr pilot an ORECA P2 prototype with Luhr having experience with the Nissan engine. The German duo will be looking to continue in the TUDOR Championship the success that Pickett Racing has known the last few years in the American Le Mans Series.
Graf and Luhr have been one of the strongest pairings of late. Since being paired aboard a Muscle Milk car, the pair has finished on the podium 23 times, including 18 wins in 28 starts. They've also combined to start on pole 13 times. Not to mention two Championships together, with Luhr being the most prized ALMS driver with 49 career wins and six championships.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will be making its on track debut with its new race car at the Roar before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Raceway January 3 - 5, 2014.
The 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season kicks off January 23 - 26 with the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Greg Pickett, Team Owner, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing: "This is an exciting time for us at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing as we welcome ORECA as our new partner. After winning the last two P1 Championships in the American Le Mans Series, it was important for us to choose a partner for our new adventure into the TUDOR Championship, that can help us continue, and build on, the success we've known so far.
"Our success the last couple of years was only made possible by our commitment to work closely and collaboratively with our friends and partners at HPD, Wirth Engineering and Michelin. Although we will miss working with them, our commitment to ORECA will be exactly the same.
"We fully understand that the level of competition will be much higher this year. We are a very competitive organization by nature and look forward to this greater challenge. Competition, after all, is the reason we go racing in the first place.
"I very much appreciate the input and guidance I received from our two championship drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf who were instrumental in helping us make this important decision. I can't wait to see them behind the wheel of our new ORECA/Nissan prototype.
"Hugues (de Chaunac) shares the same passion for racing in America that I do and that's something very important to us. When you have the same focus, commitment and passion, only good can come of it. With ORECA's deep roots in motorsports, particularly sports car racing, and proven achievements, it made for an easy decision.
"It will be a fun and challenging season ahead and we're committed to working closely with our partner ORECA to make it as successful as possible."
Hugues de Chaunac, President ORECA: "It was one of our priorities to have an ORECA 03 LM P2 on the grid of the new American endurance championship and we are thrilled that it's the two-time ALMS champs, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, who are the first to announce their choice.
"Pickett's team has shown both their level of performance and their impressive level of professionalism in recent years; it's an honor and a responsibility to entrust one of our prototypes to a top team such as theirs. With Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, to whom we will be offering our technical support, we are getting ready to take on a new exciting challenge.
The United States is a special place for us and the USCC represents a thrilling new chapter. Our goal is clear: win the classics like Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans as a constructor. We are working to have other ORECA 03 entries on track in North America, alongside the numerous ORECA-FLM09 cars already present in Prototype Challenge. I can't wait to see our prototypes race at Daytona, 14 years after our overall victory with the Viper. It's a new step in the Group's development in the USA."
Klaus Graf, Driver, #6 Muscle Milk ORECA/Nissan: "After taking back-to-back titles in the ALMS, I'm really looking forward to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as a new era will begin. The responsible people, I think, tried really, really hard to combine the best assets from both series. They've certainly combined a good schedule, I think the calendar is fantastic for next year. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is looking forward to this new challenge in this new series.
"I very much look forward to getting into the ORECA/Nissan prototype car. This combination has been the dominant package. We looked very hard into what would be the best way to move forward for us and the ORECA 03 LM P2 with a Nissan engine was the one to have in the past and I'm pretty confident that it will be the same in the future. It has won many races and hopefully we can win many more.
"We did a lot of analysis in regards to what would be our preferred package to make us competitive. We looked at a lot of variables, what is important for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, not only what we need as a team to perform but also in terms of marketing and reliability, so we really looked at a lot of different aspects of the package before we made this decision.
"It's going to be a new environment for everybody, The TUDOR Championship is completely new, we have a new package, we have a bigger team for next year with new drivers who will join Lucas and me. The Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team grew tremendously the last couple of years, I was an integral part of that not only as a driver and everybody involved can be very, very proud to be part of such an organization. At the end of the day, it's down to our partners Muscle Milk, ORECA, Continental Tires and the Pickett family to make this a success again and to continue the path of the Pickett Racing team."
Lucas Luhr, Driver, #6 Muscle Milk ORECA/Nissan: "I'm very excited to discover the ORECA/Nissan car. I had a chance to drive a Nissan powered P2 at Le Mans and I had a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can continue with this new package the success we had with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing last year. The ORECA has shown it can win races and our goal is to give them more wins.
"I think the competition is going to be very tough, not only in the prototype class but in all classes. The key is going to be the balance between the DPs and P2s, I have high hopes that they will get it right so that nobody has an advantage or a disadvantage and that we can really fight on the circuit. I think it's what the drivers like and what the fans like but for sure it's going to be tough competition. But it's good when the competition is tough and fair, then everybody is happy and the best will win."