Following a strong debut outing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the 24 Hours of Daytona, Land Motorsport are evaluating a full programme in the North American Endurance Cup, according to team manager Christian Land.
The ADAC GT Masters champions came within three tenths of the GTD class-winning Alegra Motorsport Porsche at Daytona and were present at last week’s official Sebring test with drivers Christopher Mies, Connor de Phillippi and Jules Gounon, ahead of the 12 Hours next month.
Speaking exclusively to Racing.GT, Land indicated that the team is considering adding the final NAEC rounds at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans to their schedule if Sebring runs according to plan.
Land Motorsport are set to confirm their GT Masters title defense in the coming weeks, in addition to a VLN programme building up to an assault on the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
“The plan was totally different to what it looks like now,” revealed Land.
“When you finish behind the leader by only three tenths at the finish, everybody was searching for what we could do better next time, but when you see the amount of teams there with a lot more IMSA experience than we had, the job we did at Daytona was great.
“We were all quite happy with P2, as well as our main sponsor Montaplast who makes this whole programme possible for us. Everybody was happy with the performance and soon after the decision was made to do Sebring, where we will now fight for the top step of the podium.
“We hope that we can stay in the top three in the NAEC championship standings. If we can do this, our chances to also race Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans will be more likely, but at the moment nothing is 100% fixed.
“We are working on that in the background so we are prepared in all areas in case the decision is made to do the additional races, but at the moment the biggest focus is first on Sebring.”
Land reported that the test went smoothly and that the team greatly benefitted from De Phillippi’s experience of racing at Sebring last season for Stevenson Motorsport.
“Sebring is very special, we have no track in Germany like it,” he continued.
“Connor did the 12 hour race last year with Stevenson, he said ‘I know the track really well’, but here we must think in another direction overall.
“From the beginning we are quite happy with the car, it works very well and we improved a lot. The track is very bumpy, so we will make the car a bit more comfortable for the drivers, but after the second day, we are every time under the top five cars and the long runs look good after one stint.”
However, with fuel flow rates unchanged after Daytona, where the Audi’s longer final pitstop dropped it from first to fifth in the final 30 minutes, Land is wary of making any concrete predictions.
“I think we are in the position where we can fight for the win, but we must look at what changes IMSA makes after this Sebring test,” he said.
“The BOP for us was not ideal as you saw in Daytona. Our refuelling time is too long with the Audi, which was one of the points that cost us important track position at the end of the race.
“You can see on some special sheets from IMSA that the Audis stay the most time in the pits every time they refuel. The ideal would be a little bit bigger fuel restrictor so our refuelling is at least the same as our competitors, but so far nothing was changed after Daytona. We must wait and see if they re-evaluate these things after they’ve gathered Sebring testing data.
“For now we must improve on other areas, because we know now that every time we pit under full-course yellow we will be overtaken by our competitors.”
Austrian outfit Grasser Racing were also present at the Sebring test. Like Land Motorsport, the Lamborghini team’s presence in the NAEC beyond Sebring is understood to be results-dependent.
Did you know?
The Audi R8 LMS campaigned by Land Motorsport at Daytona was a brand new chassis. It has been kept in the US since the first November test in the Starworks Motorsport workshop in Deerfield Beach, Florida, to save on freight costs.