The FIA World Endurance Championship’s brand-new Hypercar class, which replaces LMP1 at its top prototype category, could be facing a worrisome debut at Sebring with a grid of no more than two to three Hypercars.
The unfortunate scenario comes on the heels of news from New York’s Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, which originally announced its plans to field two or more of its SCG 007 Hypercars starting at the March 19 1000 Hours of Sebring WEC season opener, and has confirmed its entries will not be present for Round 1. It leaves a pair of German outfits in Toyota Gazoo Racing and its two Hypercars, and possibly a single car from ByKolles, to take the green flag.
Citing the late completion of its first chassis and mounting concerns over the Sebring WEC race taking place due to COVID-19 and international travel complications, Glickenhaus says there’s no reason to push for the 007’s debut to take place in Florida.
“It’s not going to happen,” he told RACER. “So we, seeing this very early on, called up the ACO, and said, ‘Look guys, under your rules, when we say the car’s done and homologated, we’re locked into that homologation for five years. So, for us to rush to get a car to you for homologation, which means getting no testing in beforehand, not doing a 30-hour endurance test, all just to make Sebring when we don’t think Sebring’s going to happen, would be psycho-crazy for us to commit to.’ And the other thing is, with COVID, I don’t think I can get Europeans into Florida, and if I could, I don’t think they would be allowed to go back without quarantine. I can’t pay for 40 people for 14 days to quarantine.”
With the Sebring removed from its immediate concerns, Glickenhaus will focus on rolling out the twin-turbo V8-powered 007s to race somewhere near where they’re built in Italy.
“We are building up car one and the tub for car two is arriving this week, and we will have car one built up in January to start testing with,” he said. “We will begin testing drivers and I would say our homologation lock date now is about March 16th or 17th. By then, we will be fully tested, have all our drivers and be ready to lock in the car and quite honestly, I don’t think further testing would make it much different.
“What I think is going to happen is, the first WEC race is going to be Monza and I think it’s going to be hopefully in late April. Then, they will do Spa and Le Mans. However, if the vaccine doesn’t roll out, and if this second coronavirus strain stays prevalent in Europe, I think they may just go back to four races and push it back to the summer or something because they have tremendous financial problems with running ghost races. It’s a big, big problem financially for everyone to have no fans.”
Three additional news items have been recently confirmed by Glickenhaus, starting with securing the services of the Sauber (Alfa Romeo) Formula 1 team’s wind tunnel, and race support from Joest Racing.
“We have a series of tests that will culminate and then to homologate the car, we have to put it in the Sauber wind tunnel because they’re the homologating body,” he said. “They are also our aerodynamic team, and the deal we made with Joest is because they called us and said, ‘Look, we have all of these people and we’re not doing the Mazda DPi deal. Could we make a deal?’ I said, ‘Absolutely, I’m very interested in your expertise and helping us go to Le Mans. But I just want to make it really clear that this is our team when we’re running together.’ And they completely understand it.
“So they will provide the transportation, the mechanics, all the pit equipment, some race engineers, although we will use some of our racing engineers and Luca Cianchetti and I will still run the team with input from them; but it’s not like they’re taking over our Le Mans effort or anything like that, nor do they want to. It’s a real collaborative effort and they’ll be involved in the testing and the setting up and I’m sure they’ll come up with some changes to the car based on their vast experience.”
The last item of interest looks to the future. Glickenhaus reports a frosty relationship with IMSA has thawed, of late, as his team and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s leadership have begun discussions about SCG being involved with IMSA in the coming years.
“We have had some very positive discussions recently,” he said. “We will be working to have the SCG 004 homologated for GT3, and we’re working on some other things that we’d love to see racing in North America and abroad.”