Alex Job – Time For Change
© Gary Horrocks

It seems that change is a common aspect of life. And for Alex Job Racing, change has come. Contrary to some previously made comments (since clarified), AJR will not partake in any ALMS events in the 2007 season.

Alex Job: “It’s not an easy decision to make. I was really hoping to make our 19th consecutive appearance at Sebring this coming year, but it is not to be. We need to concentrate on our Daytona Prototype effort in Grand Am.”

When all was said and done, leaving the ALMS was not out of frustration. It was purely a financial decision. “It was a business decision. It is actually cheaper to run a GT2 program than it is to run a DP program. But, with GT2 being the lowest class in a four class race, it is difficult to get the exposure that a sponsor is looking for. Ruby Tuesdays wants to be racing up front for the overall victory, so that is where we will concentrate our efforts for next season.” Plus, there is the fact that “Porsche encouraged us to concentrate on our DP program.”

But it’s not like they will be completely gone from the IMSA scene. There is still the GT3 program for privateers that AJR still hopes to be involved with next season.

2006 will go down as the worst season ever in ALMS competition for AJR. “Yes it was frustrating. We still won one race, but it could have been so much better. We were punted out of races where we were running very well and were in position to possibly win. Sebring, Mosport, Petit. I think we were leading for about five hours at Petit when we were taken out. It isn’t purely the fault of the team, but it happened.”

This frustration has no bearing on the decision to leave the series. But that said, Alex would like to see the punishment for contact be enforced, with the penalty being made greater. “Something has to be done to deter this. Make the penalty harsh enough that people will really think about it. If it’s in a practice session, make them have to sit out the session.”

Alex is not a fan of the performance balancing that took place in the ALMS this year and is also a fixture in the Grand Am series. “We really got hurt by it last season in Grand Am, but I was glad that it did not feature in the GT2 class of the ALMS. Fans would ask me when I expected to see the Ferrari slowed, and I told them I hoped they would not be slowed at all. Part of the ACO package is that the rules stay stable. You race with what you started the season with. It just so happened that the Ferrari was a better package. They did a better job building the car within the regulations. Us Porsche runners were just fortunate that the team and drivers had problems during the season, otherwise it would have been difficult for any other cars to see a victory.”

If AJR is able to return to the ALMS in the future, don’t look for it to be in GT2. “I think I’m done with racing in the back of the field. We’ve run up front in Grand Am, and I like that. I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been discussions concerning running a P2 program in the future. But, the budget has to be there. We’ve had discussions, but for now, my concern for the future is that the ACO wants to insure that the P2 cars are slower than the P1 cars. I want to race up front with the opportunity to take that win. With Acura coming in, you would have to think that they are not going to be satisfied with fighting for second class honors.”

So for 2007, it will be Grand Am only. It will be a much more sane year for the small team, one that was really stretched last season, when they ran in both series. “For now, it is a one car program. We hope to be able to expand to two, but we want to concentrate on the 24 hours at Daytona and try to win that one first. We’ve had discussions on going for a second car and actually turned down one package as it just didn’t look like it would work out right. We’ll wait for the right one to come along.”

For now, no drivers have been announced for the season or even Daytona. Patrick Long did the driving at the recent Daytona test, so it can be assumed that he is likely coming back, but for now, that’s all that is known. It is hoped that arrangements can be reached to have Mike Rockenfeller back in the car for Daytona at least.

As far as Holly Job’s feelings for next year, she summed it up well. “I thought I’d be more sad about this than I am. While I will miss the people in the ALMS, I think it will be easier on our team. It was very difficult doing both series last year, from a time and schedule stand point. I hope by concentrating our efforts on the one series, we will have a better year, one that is more up to our standards.”

Meanwhile, others are going the other way.

 

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