More news coming from the new Tudor United Sportscar Championship. The team of the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing LMP2 will not being competing in the Long Beach Grand Prix or at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the next two stops on the new IMSA schedule. In a press release they posted yesterday on their site, they stated that "they were unable to spend their usual amount of time preparing and learning about their new P2 ORECA Nissan." Not only did they not have enough prep time with their new car, by their accounts only about 5 weeks which is still astounding they made the first two events, but they are also having to deal with the new tires for the series. Last season they ran Michelin, but this year the P2 class can only run Continentals, and adding more potential issues, these new P2 cars have never run Continentals making the tires a completely new variable for the teams.
It seems that the entire restructuring of both ALMS and Grand Am into one series might be a bit of a mess at the moment. With IMSA asking that both teams and fans must be patient as they go through and work out their growing pains. But how much longer can we wait. We are about to go into the third race of the season, and with last race's monumental cock up over poor marshalling and the fact that they didn't reverse their incorrect decision, are we going to see a mass exodus of teams out of IMSA? Yes, it's early to start the death knell of TUSC, but this so far is not looking like a properly run racing series. And with drivers lives on the line, not to mention all the sponsorship money, they can't afford to continually make mistakes.
Team owner Greg Pickett said that "it's never an easy decision to make when deciding to miss a race, let alone two…Additionally, while we did lead some laps at Sebring, the speed differential between the DP cars and the P2s is still quite big and I want to see what the series does with that over the course of the next couple of races, as these will take place at tracks that should favor the P2 cars." He went on to say that having a racing team and being in racing in general means that you want to go out and be competitive, and being forced to be not competitive is not really racing, "you can't being fighting for wins if you're not on a level playing field."
With so much flux, confusion, and mistakes IMSA really needs to get their acts together, otherwise the merger will be a definite failure. I personally loved watching ALMS, and I have watched the last two races, and both have not captivated me like the last few years of ALMS. I don't know if it's the addition of the DP's or the lack of P1's or the new leadership, but something is definitely missing from the series now.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is stating that they are pulling out of these two races because they need more time preparing their new car, but the statements from Greg Pickett relay a different message of a lack of confidence with this new series. Only time will tell if this will become a trend.
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Original Press Release
Photo Credit to Muscle Milk Pickett Racing.