The successful union between IMSA entrants John Church, John Miller, and Bob Stallings could provide the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with its fifth Daytona Prototype international manufacturer.
As Church told RACER in a recent interview, the Minnesota-based JDC-Miller Motorsports team, which added Stallings and his GAINSCO Insurance support to the program this season, is exploring its options to acquire DPis for 2019 to replace the spec WEC P2s it currently fields.
If an agreement with Acura — which uses the same base ORECA 07 chassis JDC-Miller/GAINSCO drove to victory on Sunday at Watkins Glen — is not forthcoming or if Cadillac, Mazda, and Nissan are unwilling or unable to make their DPis available, Stallings says his strong relationship with Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai could form the basis of a JDC-led DPi effort.
Similar to the Nissan Onroak DPi program created by Tequila Patron ESM, where team owners Ed Brown and Scott Sharp contracted NISMO to supply engines and hired Ligier to design custom Nissan DPi bodywork to dress its JS P217 chassis, Stallings and the JDC ownership group could upgrade their No. 99 ‘Red Dragon’ and the No. 85 ‘Banana Boat’ to DPis through direct commissioning of engines and bodywork.
“The win Sunday has energized John Miller and me to build a championship team that can compete on a routine basis with Roger Penske and Wayne Taylor and anyone who comes to the track. We’re very focused on what we’re going to do next year and trying to go to DPi because there are some advantages there,” Stallings told RACER.
“We’ve spoken with some factories about an engine program for next year, and we’re in contact with our own chassis supplier and others about a DPi program. My guess is we’ll stay with [ORECA], but that will depend a lot on who we end up picking for an engine program next year.”
Between the end of the Bob Stallings/GAINSCO IMSA Prototype effort early in the 2014 season (pictured above) and its return this year with JDC-Miller, the team fielded a factory Pirelli World Challenge program in partnership with Hyundai where it built a GTS version of the brand’s Genesis Coupe. And with his stake as an owner of multiple Hyundai dealerships, Stallings is understandably keen to continue the racing relationship in America’s top form of endurance competition.
“I have a relationship with the factory and I own a few stores, so I’ve been having discussions about racing in the big leagues,” he continued. “They have some great engines with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo, and that has tremendous potential, and they have a V8 that’s tuned way down that’s capable of a lot more power, so that’s something we’ve thought about. There’s very preliminary conversations there, and in terms of worldwide production, they’re the third-largest manufacturer. They have a lot of people there who’ve done a lot of racing and they’re interested in building a ‘halo’ car.
“And I don’t mind saying I’ve had an allegiance with General Motors; we’ve worked with them for a long, long time and we’ve been impressed with their Cadillac. And we’ve been contacted by another factory that is not out there about running a joint venture where they do the engine and gearbox development in partnership with the same chassis supplier we have now. That’s what we’ve been exploring.”
Despite their popular win with a spec P2 car at Watkins Glen, Stallings sees a shift to DPi as a necessary move in order to win championships.
“With the [WEC] P2s, there’s some benefits there with top-end power like you saw at Watkins Glen, because once you get to terminal speed, you’re OK, but the advantage the DPis have on us is grunt,” he explained. “Coming out of the hole, we just don’t have the torque they have. And in DPi, you’re just allowed to do a number of more things with the suspension to adjust things that you aren’t permitted to do with the P2. People know we can win and we can win championships, and John Church and John Miller are on the same page with where we want to take things.”
If Hyundai were to go forward in DPi with JDC/Miller/Stallings, it would add to its current involvement in the Pirelli World Challenge series where Bryan Herta Autosport fields a pair of i30 N TCR entries for Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis.