Penske waiting for right sportscar prototype opportunity
Penske Racing president Tim Cindric says that the team is still interested in sportscar racing, and that IMSA’s move toward DPi and LMP prototypes “has good merit.”
Penske last ran sportscars in 2009 using the Riley-Porsche combo in the Grand-Am Rolex Series. The team scored three podium finishes, a pole position but no wins, and drivers Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard finished fourth in that year’s championship.
The team’s last successful venture into sportscar competition was in the American Le Mans Series using the Porsche RS Spyder LMP2s, which between 2005 and ’08 accumulated 11 overall victories – including the 2008 Sebring 12 Hours – and 13 other class wins.
Cindric commented on the new-for-2017 Prototype regulations saying: “Ultimately it comes down to how many manufacturers get involved.
“Sportscars are very hard to sell from a pure sponsor standpoint: it needs to be a manufacturer-backed project. Any proper sportscar program in the world needs to be a proper factory-backed effort.”
Although the majority of manufacturers are interested in the GT Le Mans class, Cindric said that class wins weren’t of great interest to Team Penske.
“I think we’ve been offered every GT program there is,” he said, “but we only really want to race for an overall win. We want to race in a prototype series of some kind.
“That doesn’t necessarily have to be Le Mans or WEC, but we don’t want to spend the time to go racing to finish 10 laps down and get a trophy. We want to be the first to cross the line, and that’s how Roger feels about it.
“But regarding IMSA, change is an opportunity. If you said things were going to stay the same, I’d tell you it would be tough for us to go sportscar racing any time soon. But with the changes coming in IMSA, I think you’ll see more and more manufacturers get in, because I do think what they’re doing and what they’re proposing has good merit.
“Some manufacturers may just watch at first, and then go in after a year or two, so I’d say our odds of entering certainly go up at that stage.”
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