Michael Andretti continues to work on landing a contract with an auto manufacturer that bring his team into IMSA’s new-for-2023 LMDh prototype class.
Under the Andretti Green Racing banner, the team represented Acura from 2007-08 in the American Le Mans Series’ LMP2 class, and with its foray into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s LMP3 class this year, Andretti is keen to keep going and eventually take the program to the top of IMSA.
“There’s at least two manufacturers [that] still haven’t committed to teams [that] we’re [talking] with,” Andretti told RACER of his ongoing discussions. “It obviously wouldn’t be a ’23 program; [it] would be a ’24 program. But we are very, very interested and I’m hoping that we can put something together soon.”
RACER understands Andretti Autosport got to a point of advanced talks with Audi before the German brand made the abrupt decision to end its plans for a factory LMDh IMSA program and focus its energies on the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Although Audi remains open to selling customer cars in North America and could engage in a semi-factory alignment with one or more teams, the Volkswagen Group brand might fall short of what Andretti is looking for in an LMDh partnership. Lamborghini is also seeking partner teams, but would not provide a full budget for the program.
Another brand that would seemingly serve as a perfect fit is McLaren, which has yet to confirm its intent to enter LMDh in 2024 but continues to give signals that suggest the odds are more than favorable of joining the hybrid prototype category where Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche have committed to the new formula.
“It comes down to the rules; they finally got smart,” Andretti said of why LMDh has renewed his top-tier team ownership interest. “I think [IMSA] did a great job working together with the FIA in Europe to come up with a package that you’ll be able to go and run at Le Mans. I think that was very important to have equal rules for that — they did a great job. It’s very cost effective for a manufacturer to come in now, where before it was just, ‘He who has the most money is going to win’ type thing.
“Where now, it’s going to be limited to what they can spend, and I think it’s just going to make for a better series is going to be a lot of interest. I think they’ve done a great job. I’m very excited about the future for IMSA and I hope I can be a part of it.”
Until Andretti Autosport lands an LMDh partner, Andretti says he’ll continue to field the LMP3 effort (pictured above) led by his nephew Jarett Andretti, the son of his late cousin John Andretti.
“He’s very busy on it, and I’m there to support him,” he added. “I promised John I would support Jarett in whatever he was going to do, and for us, also, it’s been good to learn for when we do get into the series in a bigger way if we get in with a manufacturer. It’s been a good learning experience from that standpoint.”