IMSA • July 10, 2013
Whelen Engineering to step up to Daytona Prototype ranks in 2014...
With the sports car racing landscape in North America quickly changing, one of GRAND-AM's leading GT teams is mounting a step up the ladder, in hopes of achieving overall victories in 2014.
Marsh Racing, longtime competitors in the Pirelli World Challenge and Rolex Series GT series, will graduate to the Prototype ranks of the new United SportsCar Racing series next year, entrusting team regulars Boris Said and Eric Curran with a Corvette DP.
After four seasons campaigning self-built Corvettes in the competitive Rolex Series GT ranks, team sponsor Sonny Whelen felt the timing was right to make the move up, according to Marsh Racing veteran Curran, who recently spoke with SPEED.com.
"The big thing for Sonny Whelen and Whelen Engineering and Team Fox, for that matter, is exposure," Curran said in an exclusive interview. "We're going from a two-class structure like it is in 2013 to a four or five-class structure. It shifts the soon-to-be GT Daytona class down the list. The amount of exposure for this class will be going down from where it is this year.
"Sonny Whelen said, 'I want exposure. That's why we're doing this.' Whelen Engineering is all about American-made, so we're going to stick to a Corvette. We have a nice relationship with Chevrolet and it only makes sense to move up to a Daytona Prototype. For us, it's a win-win."
Marsh is not going in alone, though, as the Connecticut-based squad has teamed up with Spirit of Daytona Racing to assist with the engineering and trackside support of the program.
Whelen will be purchasing SDR's second Coyote-chassised DP, which is making a run in this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, ahead of an intensive testing program Stateside that could begin as early as next month.
"I think the plan now is that we're going to do some testing with the new components for 2014," Curran said. "Because for us, as we're not running in the series, we can put the other parts on the car and test it. Where the other teams can't convert their cars and then convert them back to do racing. We'll start to develop some of the new parts."
While the configuration of the 2014-spec DPs, which will be balanced with P2 cars from the American Le Mans Series to form the lead Prototype category for next year, has yet to be determined, Curran feels the additional track time would be a benefit to he and co-driver Said, who are both relative rookies to the DP formula.
"The big thing is that both Boris and I will need seat time," he said. "We'll need to get in the car and drive it. The best thing for us is that if we get to do a lot of the development for GRAND-AM, that will give us some more seat time in the car prior to the start of the year.
"All around, it's a good fit. And if we have a leg up on the competition, in terms of knowing what the changes are going to be and being comfortable of what the [changes] are going to do, I think we will be in a pretty good position."
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