This news came down late Friday and by the power of taking a few hours off before the rest of the month of May (slacking, I know), it meant I hadn’t got to writing it until today.
Nonetheless, it’s still a bit of bad news.
EFFORT Racing announced late Friday night that it would be taking a hiatus from Pirelli World Challenge competition for the rest of the 2016 season, but with “every intention” of continuing into 2017. The team cited the current oil prices (currently $45 a barrel) as the reason for the dropout.
“It is with great disappointment that we announce a halt to our 2016 season,” EFFORT owner Chuck Toups said in a release. “We want to thank our fans for their wonderful support and salute our competitors in the series as they continue their run to the Pirelli World Challenge crown. We couldn’t be on the sharp end of the grid without our all-star crew, and the excellent support provided by Porsche. We’ve already started the development of our 2017 program to reclaim the top spot in the championship.”
This leaves Patrick Long and Michael Lewis – who combined have won three of the first seven races in GT this season – temporarily sidelined, along with the talented crew led by team manager Erin Gahagan and technical director Stefan Pfeiffer.
Long told DailySportsCar’s Stephen Kilbey he remains hopeful of getting something put together prior to the next rounds of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, May 19-22. But he noted he wasn’t as surprised as the rest of the world seemed to be when the announcement dropped.
“They’re a great, small team, who do a lot with a little, so this news doesn’t surprise me if I’m perfectly honest,” Long told Kilbey from this past weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
What this news does do is open up a heckuva lot more questions about how this all went down.
- Why now?
- How much money would the team have needed to continue just this season?
- Can they bounce back and make a return in 2017, as they’ve outlined in the release? Announcing a hiatus is often the beginning of end for race teams.
- Who can challenge Cadillac Racing for this year’s GT championship now? EFFORT and its pair of talented drivers were the best collective bet. Outside of K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente in the McLaren 650S GT3 run by Flying Lizard Motorsports, there’s not a lot of threats to the establishment.
- Will this hurt the prestige of the series when one of its established, top teams – and a class-winning and race-winning team in that – goes away on short and immediate notice?
- What happens to the crew from here?
All told, the news drop on Friday night was only the beginning of the story of what’s next for EFFORT from here.