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Daytona Polesitter SMP Closes On More IMSA Enduros, But WEC GTE Programme Parked

SMP Racing’s pole position for Saturday’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will not have done any harm whatsoever for the Russian flagged team’s consideration of a potential expanded IMSA race programme in 2016 for the BR01 Nissan LMP2 Coupe.

The team’s pre-Daytona position on participation in additional IMSA endurance events had been to wait to assess the competitiveness of their car on the spec Continental rubber.

Correctly unconcerned by the weather affected miss mash of the classes in qualifying the team are focused solely on their relative pace vs the Prototype class opposition and that relative pace of the BR01 against the established Prototype class has been good here, though the somewhat mixed weather conditions haven’t yet allowed a real comparison of ultimate pace.

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Certainly though yesterday, even before the qualifying sessions senior team sources were very much encouraged about the potential for the car in North America. “ A programme here for the car makes a lot of sense. There are some big races and we want to display the car to its full potential.”

Such a programme would be in addition to the already confirmed to car effort for a pair of new chassis BR01s in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.

The remaining question surrounds the potential for a GTE programme for the SMP Racing team, winners in 2014 of the GTC Championship in the ELMS and in 2015 of the GTE AM title in the FIA WEC.

Here there is likely to be a degree of disappointment for some as the level of focus for the LMP2 programme looks set to see SMP’s GTE programme take a sabbatical for much of the year.

The SMP Racing brand will be seen prominently on the pair of AF Corse GTE Pro cars in the FIA WEC again but at present it seems that the Ferrari 488 entered in the team’s name at Daytona will not be seen entered by SMP again this season, the only other GTE programme looking likely being the auto entry for Le Mans for a Ferrari 458, the team’s full season commitment in the WEC in LMP2 set to qualify the team to take up the entry.

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Beyond that there is potential for the GTE programme to return in 2017 with the Ferrari 488.