British sportscar ace Johnny Mowlem says he is hopeful that Corsa Motorsports will be able to challenge for the LMP1 championship in its first full season of competition with its hybrid Zytek.
The car made its debut in the final two races of the 2008 season, although the Kinetic Energy Recovery system that the team will utilise during the coming year wasn't in place for the events at Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca.
That should be rectified ahead of the new season with the team hoping to run with the KERS system in place for the first time either later this month or in early February ahead of the system being given a race debut in the Sebring Twelve Hours in March.
The issue of KERS has become a hot topic of discussion in Formula One circles during the winter, with much discussion about the impact it may have on the sport, but Mowlem said he was hopeful that the KERS-equipped LMP1 machine would prove to be a competitive package in the American sportscar series.
"Being brutally honest, aside from Sebring where there will be Peugeot and Audi, the decision taken by Audi to withdraw from the ALMS means a lot of the competition has gone," he told Crash.net
. "I suspect that with the current economic climate, it could be a situation where the main contenders for victory – the overall victory – will be the two Acuras from Highcroft and de Ferran and ourselves with the Zytek.
"You'd like to think that if they are running into a few teething problems [with the new car] and we are running reliably – and we should be as even if the KERS fails it won't stop the car – then realistically we could maybe win the LMP1 championship. I suppose a more realistic approach is to run in the top two or three overall and if we can get a few victories this year then I would be more than delighted."
Mowlem added that the KERS system wouldn't necessarily make the car more fragile, and indeed said that the system could be easily disabled if needed in a racing environment in problems occurred.
"It depends on how the failure happens," he said. "Obviously, if a battery catches fire or something awful like that happens, then it will have an impact. But if the actual KERS system itself stops working for whatever reason, we will just carry on driving without it.
"It's very simple to disable as well, so hopefully it isn't something that will end up causing us to not finish a race."