2010 will see a new class present in the American Le Mans Series, the new low-cost prototype LMPC class, TCF took the chance to speak to Joel Feinberg, owner/driver of Primetime Race Group who are looking strong to take the LMPC title this year.
2009 saw the team clinch the IMSA Lites championship, alongside running a Dodge Viper in the ALMS GT2 class, the team have been looking to take part in the LMP class for some time now, so when presented with the opportunity of the LMPC class Feinberg and the team jumped at it, “When the LMPC was brought up mid season it seemed like an easy transition for our team, at about the same cost of our current GT program.” says Feinberg.
He added “The decision to make the move was solidified by the fact that the class will remain a single make spec class precluding teams from spending and politicking for results. Now it is strictly up to the teams and drivers to compete on a level playing field. May the best team win!”
With six teams signed up to the LMPC class we asked Joel about the development of the class over the year and if he thought the field would grow at all, “I'm sure IMSA will agree that having 6 teams signed up prior to the winter test can be defined as a successful addition to the series. I've heard talks of another one or two teams coming in but once the season gets going I can't imagine any more teams coming in mid season once the championship points start accumulating. “
Primetime go in to the new season confident, they feel they have balanced driver line up with Feinberg himself alongside 19-year-old Kyle Marcelli, “I think we have a solid advantage on the rest of the teams as far as driver combinations. Most of the other teams will go the route of having a pro paired with a gentleman driver which can lead to quite a disparity between lap times. Kyle and I match up very well and with the structure of driver classifications I don't see any other combo as threat to us.”
Feinberg and Marcelli drove head-to-head in the ISMA lights championship in 2009, with both drivers sharing the same aspiration of graduating to Prototypes there was a natural choice for a partner in 2010.
“Kyle is a fast young driver with big aspirations. After the 09 season he and I stayed in touch knowing that we both had the same goal of moving into Prototypes and we both kind of ended up at the right place at the right time for each other. He was looking for a qualified team and we were looking for a qualified driver. The relationship has been great thus far and we are both looking forward to lots of champagne.”
Despite the excitement and confidence Feinberg is still grounded in the fact that he knows there is a lot of work ahead for the team this year, “Our biggest challenge this year will be the making the cars last in endurance racing. From what we've heard, the Oreca has been built to last, but 12 hours around a track like Sebring will be the true test.”
In two weeks time the ALMS circus heads to Sebring for the first official test session of 2010, 27 cars are due to be present at the test with Primetime being one of those, we asked Feinberg on what the team are expecting from the tests.
“Right now it's basically a shot in the dark for everyone.” he admitted. “This car has no suspension or tire data for a track like Sebring and it will be purely about shaking down the car and finding a baseline setup for the season. I don't expect that we will push the car very hard in this test not knowing what we are dealing with. This is a test and nothing more.”
Feinberg is looking forward to hitting the track, with Sebring being his home circuit it's the perfect way to kick off the season, when asked if there was any track on the calendar that excites him this year he simply replied “In this type of car they're all going to be exciting. It's like having a really hot girlfriend, you don't care where you go with her.”
Primetime are still a relatively young team, but are certainly on the up and already have some great memories, “As a team owner my highlight is when we showed up with two drivers at the 12 hour in 2008 with a $200,000 Dodge and took the checkered flag. We had so few resources as a privateer team with no factory support and to have finished 5th in class, and beating out a lot of big budget teams was very special to us.”
On a more personal note Feinberg admits that his IMSA Lites championship win in 2009 was a great achievement, commenting “that was four years in the making.”
Primetime are certainly ambitious, we asked about future plans, Feinberg replied “We are always looking ahead trying to find the next big thing for us.”
For now the team have their goals firmly set on winning the LMPC championship, but keep a look out for the team in the future as they are aiming high, “To get to Le Mans would be awesome for my team, I think sooner or later we'll figure out a way to show the French who the 'Bad News Bears' areâ€¦”
Watch this space!
You can follow the team on twitter at @Primetimeracer and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Primetime-Race-Group/66774716647