Effort Racing have just announced plans to cease their 2016 program in the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championships. Though the decision is only referred to as temporary with plans to return in 2017, the announcement shocks the world of GT3 racing in North America.
This will leave Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long, and Michael Lewis without Pirelli World Challenge entries for the rest of the season unless something else opens up. The duo are currently scored fourth and fifth in driver points, respectively, with the team currently sitting in third in the GT Teams Championship.
The news breaks after a Herculean effort from the team, including 200 man-hours, to repair their badly damaged Porsche 911 GT3R after Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas to return to competition less than one week later at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The team is most noticeably clad in GOD.TV and team owner, Chuck Toups’, own Effort Inc and WorldPMO, but relied on Toup’s connection to the oil industry to also fund their racing. The current price of oil at $45 a barrel (compared to the typical $100) was explicitly cited in the team’s press relaease. A quick search online will show Toup’s connection to the oil business, so it is not expected to impact other teams currently racing in World Challenge, save for any other individual connections.
“It is with great disappointment that we announce a halt to our 2016 season,” said Toups. “We want to thank our fans for their wonderful support and salute our competitors in the series as they continue their run to the Pirelli World Challenge crown. We couldn’t be on the sharp end of the grid without our all-star crew, and the excellent support provided by Porsche. We’ve already started the development of our 2017 program to reclaim the top spot in the championship.”
The good news is the team is continuing to work with Porsche to develop throughout the offseason in hopes of returning in 2017 as noted above. Rather than attempting to put together sponsors in short notice, the team puts it’s full focus on finding sponsorship for a solid 2017.