DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Motorsports In Action has just the right combination of equipment and crew in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Now, they’re just seeking a little bit of luck.
For one, the Montreal-based team has their ideal race car, the McLaren GT4. Team Owner Eric Kerub has a 40-year relationship with the manufacturer and IMSA’s transition to the universally homologated GT4 platform two years ago caught his eye.
“McLaren was offering a car, IMSA was doing a homologated series which, with all things considered, the cars would be equal,” said Kerub. “I said, ‘All we need to do is put a good team together, have good drivers and have a good strategy and if you do all those things right, you have a chance to win.’
“You don’t have to rely on the car anymore and how much development you put in it. That ingredient really worked for us from a conceptual point of view. We threw our hat in the big leagues and decided to go straight to GS racing with IMSA.”
It was a giant leap for the team that had primarily supported local club racing. With the help of crew chief Carl Hermez – who had previously worked with other MICHELIN Pilot Challenge teams – Motorsports In Action joined the GS field in 2017. They capped off the year with their first win during the season finale at Road Atlanta, putting them sixth in the final championship standings, and have added six top-five finishes and two MOTUL Pole Awards to its tally.
Another key to its success is the stout driver lineups that have gone through the team’s program in just two short years. For its rookie campaign, Kerub tapped Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions Chris Green and Jesse Lazare to be his drivers in the No. 76 McLaren GT4. Lazare returned this year alongside 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge runner-up Corey Fergus.
The driver talent Motorsports In Action has been able to secure is remarkable. In addition to each of their performances in the IMSA-sanctioned, one-make series, Green is a McLaren Brand Ambassador, Lazare is a class winner at the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona while Fergus owns the 2015 World Challenge Touring Car championship.
“For me, I knew I had to invest in this program to put a car in the front because quite frankly and realistically, who’s going to pay attention to a new team coming into the sport without a pedigree?” asked Kerub. “It’s too much of a question mark. If I’m a Pro-Am driver, I’m most likely going to go for a known entity that has shown performance throughout many years. The only way we were going to be able to get any of these Pro-Ams or continue our program where it became unusual for somebody was to put our car in the front.
“The investment came from Motorsports In Action to make sure we have a car that we can field in the front to help our visibility, to help future potential two-man teams or Pro-Am teams to come and say, ‘Yeah we saw what these guys can do, they can deliver, they can execute and we want to be with them.’”
Yet while the team’s potential has been on full display the last two seasons, it’s the bad luck that haunts Kerub. He points to this year’s race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in September when Lazare started from the pole and led the first 22 laps before a sudden wheel nut issue put the team’s McLaren in the gravel and out of the race.
“It was an immediate catastrophic failure,” Kerub describes. “It wasn’t like we had a loose wheel. It drives me crazy.”
Their bad luck is the one “ingredient” that has stopped Motorsports In Action from being the team Kerub knows it can be.
“We have to find drivers and a program now, in the next month and a half,” said Kerub. “We executed really well throughout the year given what we were given. Pit stops were excellent, teamwork was excellent, we did the best with what we had, and we are a good team. I really believe that or else I wouldn’t be trying to put this thing together. If we didn’t have the right ingredients, I wouldn’t be trying. We have all the right ingredients, and now we just need a bit of luck.”