The Onroak Conundrum
When Eric Bachelart decided to rename his team Conquest Endurance, leaving the IZOD IndyCar Series in favor of an LM P2 entry in the American Le Mans Series, he became the American distributor of Onroak’s bespoke Morgan chassis powered by a Nissan engine. The plan was to show the value of the chassis and bring new competitors into the class.
Objective No. 1 is close to being met as Conquest Endurance battles on Saturday for the LM P2 ALMS championship, running their car against Level 5 Motorsports and their Honda-powered machine. The title could go either way in the 10-hour or 1000-mile 15th annual Petit Le Mans on the Road Atlanta road course.
But the second objective is a harder one to implement, as the world of endurance racing changes within the next year.
As ALMS and Grand-Am project their merger into the 2014 season, new rules must be made and the ultimate questions relate to the prototype classes, including LM P2. Will the merged series allow the Onroak prototype as a viable racer or will Grand-Am’s Daytona Prototype class hold sway?
These are the questions confronting everyone in the ALMS paddock and particularly the teams in the prototype arena. While they can always do what Starworks Motorsport has successfully done – contest both the FIA World Endurance Championship and Grand-Am – not everyone has those capabilities or desires to travel all over the world and build up two diverse racing cars.
That conundrum leaves Eric Bachelart and Conquest Endurance holding their breath and wondering which way the winds of sports car racing will sway. Obviously, neither Onroak nor Conquest can make the LM P2 chassis available to American racers until they know whether the machine will be viable once the rules are set.
At this time there are three of the Morgan-Nissan chassis in competition – one in WEC, one in ALMS and a third in ELMS (European Le Mans Series). Will there be more? Only time will tell.
By Anne Proffit