P2 title in hand, David Stone has to immediately switch focus to his team's plans for next year. (LAT photos)
Fresh off its third consecutive ALMS P2 championship, the Wisconsin-based Level 5 Motorsports team finds itself in the same situation as many other North American sports car teams that are preparing for 2014.
The first race of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship takes place in 92 days, and as Level 5 team manager David Stone told RACER on Friday, plotting the future for the Scott Tucker-owned program has required his full attention.
Asked about his thoughts on the P2 portion of the TUDOR Championship's draft regulations, Stone confirmed Level 5 has its sights set elsewhere.
“At first blush, those rules really don't apply to us one way or the other because I don't think that's a direction we're likely to go,” he said. “That (combined P2 and DP) class doesn't fit our agenda. Going back as far as last November, I met with all of the guys from the series: Jim France, Scott Atherton, Ed Bennett, Scot Elkins, Richard Buck, and gave them an idea of how teams like ours looks for opportunities to win races and championships wherever we go with a Pro-Am lineup. And with where P2 and DP is headed, the new [Prototype] class doesn't really lend itself to those objectives.”
With Tucker serving as one of the top amateur drivers in the ALMS, the lack of a dedicated amateur requirement in Prototype has led Level 5 to seek a better fit for its owner to continue his championship-winning ways.
“I have nothing firm at all right now; however, we're looking at and considering P1 program to run in the privateer [WEC] class, and we've also bought three PC cars,” Stone added. “The dilemma there is whether we can get a [PC] entry there because they've cut it back to 10 entries. We were looking at doing a true 24-hour test with a PC car in the beginning of November, because no one has run that car for that long on a banked track like Daytona. We would want to see how it will hold up because committing to run Daytona is an expensive proposition, but I think our window of opportunity might have passed there.”
Stone reiterated Level 5's desire to compete in PC next year, but raised an interesting point on the odd timing of 2014 TUDOR Championship entries being accepted and the upcoming performance balancing tests scheduled for Daytona and Sebring.
With entries opening on Nov. 1 and closing at the end of the month, and the tests taking place on November 16-17 (Sebring) and Nov. 19-20 (Daytona), it's possible some teams could spend the money to test and later find their entries have been denied.
The chances of that happening for a team like Level 5 would be incredibly slim, but the lack of an assured place on the grid appears to have diminished Tucker's interest in the united series.
“November 1st is when you're supposed to file your entry, but you won't find out if it has been accepted until after the Daytona-Sebring tests have been run, so you'd have to put up the $71,000 for two entries and do the test on the possibility you'd get those entries,” he noted. “Given that situation, we haven't done anything in that regard.
“PC was a possibility, but I don't know if it is now. Scott has the opportunity from doing P1 privateer in the WEC to nothing at all. Whatever he decides to do, we'll be here ready to go in the direction he chooses.”
Looking ahead, Stone's a fan of the TUDOR Championship developing a single prototype specification that would be recognized throughout the world.
“Now that there's one series here, they need to develop a new [prototype] car that the ACO will accept that we can use on both sides of the ocean,” he noted. “I know they're talking about that, but it's probably three years out from happening so we'll have to see what makes the most sense for us in the meantime.”