Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jaguar Ponders Return To Le Mans Prototype Racing

According to a report from Autoweek's website, Jaguar is mulling a return to Le Mans prototype racing, but not likely if at all before 2014, when new rules will be in effect. This would be Jag's first bid to win the 24-hour tilt in more than 20 years.

The luxury/sports car manufacturer's owner, Ratan Tata, is known to be a fan of Le Mans and made multiple references to Jaguar's seven Le Mans overall wins when he purchased Jaguar from Ford Motor Co. in 2008.

Jaguar thereafter returned to Le Mans in 2010 via Paul Gentilozzi's RSR team, which currently races its XKR GTE in the American Le Mans series.

The proponents of that program, former m.d. Mike O'Driscoll and global marketing boss C.J. O'Donnell, have both since exited Jaguar. Autoweek reported that new Tata Motors CEO Carl-Peter Forster, who formerly worked for BMW and GM in Europe, supports the revival of a Jaguar LMP1 program.

Autoweek also reported that Wirth Engineering, whose unseen coupe LMP1 design has been moribund since Acura exited the ALMS series after 2009 with the Highcroft Racing team, has had discussions with Jaguar. Wirth, per AW, denied any talks.