The championship-leading VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP team could join Michael Shank Racing as another long-term Daytona Prototype entrant to make an early move to the P2 chassis platform.
The Troy Flis-owned program, which operated under the Spirit of Daytona Racing banner through 2014, has been a steady presence in the DP ranks since joining Grand-Am’s Daytona Prototype category in 2004. With IMSA moving its TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype class to a brand-new P2 formula in 2017, Flis says he’s weighing the merits of getting a head start in 2016 or sticking with his DP next year.
“Right now we’re looking at options, and I think we have another month or so to make a decision,” he said (LEFT). “I don’t know if the current P2 car is going to be the premier car in 2016; based on what we’re hearing, the changes required to the current P2s to comply with 2017 could be a lot, but that’s what we’re seeking information on.”
With Onroak and ORECA having been named as two of the four official 2017 P2 chassis constructors, Flis is interested in buying one of their 2015-spec cars, but only if there’s a guarantee it can be updated at a reasonable cost when 2017 arrives.
“If there’s a new P2 to buy now that won’t really need much done to it to comply with the 2017 rules, that would make us think long and hard about going early and getting up to speed with the car next year,” Flis continued. “As soon as we hear from IMSA on what to expect, we’ll have a better idea of our options.”
With GM Racing continuing to evaluate its interest in IMSA’s 2017 P2 platform, it’s possible Flis could continue as a member of the manufacturer’s Prototype stable. It’s also too early to determine whether that will happen for Flis or the other Corvette DP entrants. As a result, exploring alternatives with P2 constructors and engine providers is taking place throughout the class, which Flis says is a normal part of business with a pending regulation change.
“ORECA (RIGHT) is thinking their car will need minimal changes to comply with 2017, and if that ends up being true, it would be a compelling reason to go that route in 2016,” he noted. “We want to be on the front edge of this change, but we don’t want to be the guinea pigs, either. I’d say the chances are getting slimmer by the day because we need to hear if a new P2 car will carry us into the 2017 rules without costing a lot to update.
“Based on where we stand today and who our partner’s going to be in 2017, we don’t know where we’ll end up. We hope Chevy will be there and we’ll be with them, but that isn’t our call to make this early in the process.”
Rumors of Chevy moving from a customer-based program to a factory-run effort have been making the rounds. Like the Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing teams that field Corvette DPs, Flis would like to be a part of GM Racing’s solution in either capacity.
“There’s rumor of that, for sure,” he said. “They haven’t made a decision by any means. I’d guess they’re looking at it both ways. They’ve had a lot of success in GT with their own team, and then if you look at DP, they’ve had three teams winning races for them and multiple teams winning championships, so I think there’s merit either way they choose.
“GM’s done a good job with multiple teams, and if you look at three teams running the Corvette DP, who knows if they’d pick all of us, or just one, or even move it in-house like the GTs with Pratt & Miller. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen.”
The VisitFlorida.com Racing team has a clear desire to get started on their P2 learning curve, but the longer Flis sits without the P2 information he’s seeking, the more likely the team’s No. 90 Corvette DP will be pressed into service next year.
“The more we have to wait for the rules to get finished, the easier it is to look at our Corvette DP and know it will still be a winning car next season,” he added.
“We’re definitely interested in going P2, but time is what we’re up against if a change is going to happen next season, versus buying a car later in 2016. But we’ll keep looking at the situation until we have to pick one direction or the other.
“And another manufacturer partner could come along and ask us to test their motor in a DP to get them ready for 2017, so we’re open to anything and looking at all the options there are.”
A definitive choice is expected by the penultimate IMSA round, and with a championship in sight, Flis says they won’t let selecting next year’s vehicle distract their immediate goal.
“We want to win a championship this year; that’s our first priority,” he remarked. “But at the same time, we also have to work on what we’re doing next, and I think by September, we’ll know what 2016 will look like for us. Even with a little bit of uncertainty on cars, I can say we’re really happy with VisitFlorida.com, and we’re excited to see them on whatever we race next year. Whatever happens, I expect to be in a good place when we get to Daytona.”