Give 8Star owner/driver Enzo Potolicchio enough time, and the Venezuelan will find a way to fill half of the United SportsCar Racing paddock with entries from his growing motorsports empire.
Potolicchio's sports car plans for 2014 continue to evolve, and with the recent addition of a brand-new LMPC chassis to his fleet of cars, the Brian Colangelo-run 8Star team is now poised to field the ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet in the PC category (BELOW) alongside a to-be-determined LMP2 chassis and one of its current Corvette Daytona Prototypes (ABOVE) in the combined Prototype class.
“That's our goal,” Potolicchio told RACER. “We are definitely going have to have a P2 car and a DP in Daytona because we want to win overall. To make sure. And then we'll have a PC car because it's a great customer program, it's the best class.
“All the equipment is good to go for Daytona. So our customer program, for sure, will have the PC, and then P2 and DP. We have a customer for the DP already that is proven, and we're building our sponsor relationships with companies like Motorola and a major oil company that will be on the cars soon, so things are taking off for next year already.”
8Star currently runs a pair of Corvette DPs in the Rolex Series, and while the current plan involves consolidating the effort down to a single full-time DP, its second Corvette could be entered Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans, pushing its stable to four USCR entries for nearly half the events.
“I will keep the [DP] inventory to have cars available for the endurance races,” added Potolicchio.
His plan to field a P2 car and a DP at every round was recently revealed, giving Potolicchio to the chance to nominate drivers for whichever car they feel stands the best chance of winning at each round.
“We'll fill the DP and P2 seats, but for the drivers who want to win the championship, we'll have to whisk them back and forth because we believe Daytona might be a track for DP but we're sure Sebring is a track for P2. So we're going to have to go back and forth. We have a lot of data from our cars from P2; we raced at Sebring so we have the data from our P2 car. So we'll make decisions as the season goes on.
"Unless they come up with something that would ban drivers from earning points in different chassis, it's the right decision. Not the cheapest one. But I'm looking for support. I have some sponsorship for next year that I'll be soon to announce. People that are trusting the project and are believing what I'm doing and the way we look and the industry we have created and the brand we have created with our cars and our name, it's unbelievable.”
ALMS and Grand-Am teams are still waiting on the final technical regulations for the USCR's Prototype class, but changes to the DP formula, specifically in the area of increased downforce and power, will be made. That should significantly narrow the performance gap between the two types of cars, and with the move to a spec tire from Continental, Potolicchio will have to wait until P2s and DPs run in anger during post-season testing before any preconceived notions of chassis superiority can be verified. Once that data is gathered, the 8Star team will use its new Siemens simulation software package to further refine its plans for nominating which chassis its championship contenders will drive from race to race.
“We have heavily invested in Siemens software and all the simulation software to use to build models and look at the lap times the cars are capable of doing at all the tracks,” Potolicchio explained. “We know next year they're going to make us do a lot of changes on the DP side, so we need to be prepared for that and do it professionally.
“So the software we're getting, it's great. It's unbelievable. To do all our aero maps and everything in-house will be big for us. So we're investing in that to be able to go against Ganassi and the teams that might come to Grand-Am we really need to be prepared. It will also help all our programs; we run in IMSA Lites and WEC, and this will give us more knowledge for our teams and customers everywhere we go racing.”
Potolicchio's 8Star team is less than a year old, but with the rapid growth in staff and technical resources, he's aiming to join the big names in the paddock when the 2014 season kicks off.
"Our goal is not to be a Michael Shank, our goal is not to be a GAINSCO; our goal is to be a Ganassi, Andretti, Penske. And they're heavily invested in technology. That's why Ganassi is so successful, because you're not fighting against the Grand-Am infrastructure; you're fighting against their whole infrastructure, everything they have invested in for IndyCar and NASCAR, too.
“So we need to go in that direction because they're coming. I think Indy is struggling and they're looking our way and we have all the big events. If you think about it, the ACO and WEC has Le Mans and that's all they have. In America we're going to have Daytona, Petit Le Mans, Sebring, we have great events with history, with everything. So a lot of people are looking at [USCR]; we need to be ready for that.”