With the next set of international P2 regulations headed toward a restricted number of manufacturers, IMSA, the sanctioning body for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, has been busy bringing domestic suppliers together for a potential group submission.
The ACO/FIA’s latest draft of proposed 2017 P2 regulations lists a cap of four manufacturers, with one earmarked for a North American constructor. Although the rules have yet to be finalized, manufacturers expect the limit to be ratified, and with everyone from Honda Performance Development, Multimatic, Riley Technologies, and a few new names interested in earning a supply contract, IMSA is looking at ways to include as many as possible in a single tender.
“It would be an RFP in our terms, a request for proposal,” says IMSA’s Mark Raffauf, whose decades of experience with technical regulations have been put to use with the sanctioning body’s role in the 2017 P2 car. “I think the conventional sports car constructors (mentioned above) are definitely potentials. There may be others. It’s not limited to just them. A lot of these projects come together with most of the major componentry outsourced. So I’m thinking, there’s nobody really who has a top-to-bottom design, engineering, testing, fabrication, and manufacturing capability.”
IMSA co-founder Jim France has also been a driving force in bringing a group manufacturing model to reality for 2017. Raffauf has taken France’s directive and has seen a positive response from those he’s spoken with in recent months.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw people who have expertise in certain areas working with other people that have expertise in other areas, only because I think the realization today when we did the DP car made out of steel, one of the reasons was anybody can do that,” he says. “Now you’ve got a different level with the carbon tub. I could see, theoretically, someone like Multimatic, who does carbon tubs, making tubs for that constructor, even though they’re not going to build a car. Or CORE [autosport] could make tubs.
“So someone’s going to design this and they are going to outsource the manufacturing of certain components. Another manufacturer could do the bodywork, another could do the metal work—the machining and fabrication, another one could do the bodywork; someone else could handle the assembly and spares. Everybody has strengths and weakness in their production expertise. If they come together, they could be included in where the [P2] car is going.”
It’s too early to know if IMSA’s North American P2 group supply plans will come to fruition, but Raffauf says it makes more sense to have a handful of companies involved than to see one manufacturer win the contract at the expense of the others.
“There’s just a lot of things that are not decided yet, but I would say anybody who has an interest would certainly be welcome to participate,” he confirmed. “I have introduced that concept among them and they have carried on those discussions. It’s just my opinion, but I don’t see a North American-based company that has the capability to do the entire car from start to finish without outsourcing.
“We’ll just give them the opportunity and try to guide them to it and offer some suggestions or reminders of what we did right and wrong in the past, not just in the last 10 years but maybe the last 25 years, and try and make this as successful as it can be for some staying power.”