Flying Lizard is making a long-awaited return to running Porsche 911s, only it's not where you'd expect. In addition to announcing a third customer McLaren 650S to run in Pirelli World Challenge today, Flying Lizard said that they will field a two-car customer effort in the Pirelli Porsche GT3 Cup.
Flying Lizard says that 2015 will be the year that they focus on customer programs, and given their extensive experience running race teams as well as fielding Porsche 911s in the American Le Mans Series, those are going to be some lucky customers. The customer McLaren 650S will be part of their partnership with K-Pax Racing and run alongside the two professional entries in PWC. Additionally, Flying Lizard's GT3 Cup cars will run in what is perhaps my favorite kind of racing on the planet: races entirely composed of 997 and 991 Porsche GT3 Cup cars.
Flying Lizard Program Manager Darren Law had this to say about the new customer programs:
Both Flying Lizard Motorsports and K-PAX have had such a successful racing history in various levels of the sport, and that's something we never want to lose sight of. In the past ten years of both our team's history, we've built a strong brand that racers and fans connect to. We want to continue to make serious racing efforts available to customers who share our passion for success and speed, and we now have the opportunity to expand our operation on many levels.
Something also to note: customers bring money. Tha cheddar, dolla dolla billz, C.R.E.A.M., y'all. I suppose that enters into Flying Lizard's newfound emphasis on customer racing programs somewhere.
So, what about this semi-return to Porsche? I call it a semi-return because it's not a 911 in endurance racing like they built their name in ALMS with, but rather, something new for Flying Lizard. All the permutations of GT3 Cup are fan-friggin'-tastic series comprised of up-and-coming racers as well as some of the better Dudes Who Just Have Money. There's a lot of emphasis on driver development in these series, so the competition is fierce and the racing tends to be awesome. The Pirelli Porsche GT3 Cup is a separate series from the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup that we usually cover, but the same basic idea: a bunch of Cup cars in a sprint race, go!
Law had this to say on the new GT3 Cup program in today's press release:
After looking at several race series, we felt the Pirelli Porsche GT3 Cup had something very unique to offer both teams and drivers. Our history with Porsche goes back to day one of our program, and our fans haven't let us forget it. We enjoyed great success with Porsche and look forward to running them again. It's a proven race machine, and perfect for all types of racers. Not only do we want to allow customers to race in a professional environment, but have a strong package for the best chance of development and success. Through this series, we hope to provide just that, and we're excited to get started.
As much as I'd love to see Flying Lizard back endurance racing in a 911, many believe that ship sailed far, far away when CORE Autosport got Porsche Motorsport North America's factory backing in 2014 for the new TUDOR United SportsCar series. Maybe they'll rekindle that relationship with PMNA through their GT3 Cup program. Who knows?
As far as the Flying Lizard Audis go, the team still has a big ol' "to be announced" up for the rest of the TUSC season on their website. We know they're at least doing the Rolex 24 at Daytona and they participated in the Roar Before the 24 last weekend, but nothing else has been announced about their season in TUSC yet. In their announcement of their partnership with K-Pax, they mentioned that a full TUSC season wouldn't be possible this year, but who knows at this point?
Perhaps they're waiting on customers to sign on for their new programs to be able to figure out the rest of their TUSC calendar, or they could be using Daytona to remind the world that they still exist before the PWC season fires up. (Or, y'know, running Daytona because race car, and racing cars is fun.) Nobody knows for certain right now, although if someone wants to give me a fat stack of cash to go run a GT3 Cup, I'd gladly help them with this "customer" part. Haha.
There are many customer racing programs out there, however, few have quite the reputation of fielding competitive cars that Flying Lizard does. This should be interesting to watch.
Photo credit: Getty Images