United Autosports exploring U.S. LMP3 option

Photo: United Autosports
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United Autosports is exploring the possibility of fielding an LMP3 entry in next year’s IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series.

The Anglo American team’s Richard Dean was on site at Road America this weekend to gauge the possibility of United Autosports – which has starred in LMP3 in the European Le Mans Series this year – adding a U.S. component to its program. Dean and Zak Brown are co-owners, although Brown’s work with his Just Marketing Inc. (JMI) company occupies a significant chunk of his time.

“It’s interesting. That’s why we’re here,” Dean, United Autosports team owner and managing director, told NBC Sports. “We have a facility in Indianapolis that’s underused. We have a facility. We can store cars and equipment.

“We’re looking to see if we can do it. I wanted to see what the announcement was about. We have the facility here; we have a good background to the series in Europe, and it’s something we could maybe complement it.”

LMP3’s role in the global sports car ecosystem will differ in North America compared to Europe.

In Europe, it’s the second rung in the three-class European Le Mans Series, in-between LMP2 and ahead of GTE.

Here, with LMP3 not going to replace the outgoing Prototype Challenge class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017, LMP3 is now placed in a separate series.

“(The ELMS way) does make a lot more sense, doesn’t it?” Dean explained. “Going LMP3 to LMP2 in the same series is an easy, uncomplicated step. And as you quite rightly say, every team’s ambition is to go to Le Mans. We’re no different, as in terms of logistics, pit crew, it’s basically the same P3 as P2. It’s an uncluttered thing.

“Here, even next year with DPi, they’re going their own way with those cars. PC never took off in Europe. It’s always a little bit different here.”

In case you’re not really aware of United Autosports’ prowess in Europe, Dean provided a quick primer on some of the team’s accomplishments and pedigree.

“LMP3 has been fantastic for us,” he said. “We have been in GT3 for a long time. Audi, we ran with good success. And then Audi brought out a new car.

“As a team you look at the new generation of GT3 cars. Between the obstacles of price, which car do you go with and Balance of Performance, you don’t know if you’re going to have the right car, and if you’d be fashionable and popular.

“We didn’t know what we’d be doing. Then LMP3 came along and answered all those questions. It’s cost-capped, affordable, good spares, and engine life is guaranteed. With no Balance of Performance, that, for me, is fantastic.”

Dean also explained the balancing act between he and Brown about how the team works.

“He’s got a very important day job ranging from all series from Formula 1 down,” Dean said. “He loves the team. It’s his passion. We own the team 50 percent each.

“We complement each other quite well. I do the day job, day-to-day running, and with Zak having everything from bringing some financial backing to this team, to his commercial ability, marketing, and direction, we sort of complement each other.

“He was first person on the phone, the minute the press announcement wrapped. He’s thinking about the American market. I do the big picture stuff.”

The team would be a valuable addition to the U.S. shores; we’ll see if it comes to fruition.