A consensus among manufacturers has been reached that will allow Corvette to transition from IMSA’s GT Le Mans class to 2022’s GT3-based GTD Pro category, despite there being no currently eligible version of its car. Of the 10 active auto manufacturers that build production-based GT3 cars for use, every brand is a potential factory entrant when GTD Pro debuts in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Whether it’s as a full factory effort or in support of a customer program, Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, and Porsche could be involved with GTD Pro in some capacity. And of the GTLM manufacturers currently involved in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, only Corvette and its title-winning C8.R lacks a GT3 version of the car to use after GTLM is shuttered.
Despite reports suggesting the Corvette team was aiming to convert its C8.Rs to GT3 for GTD Pro and back to GTLM for its visits to the FIA World Endurance Championship, IMSA is prepared to work with its most popular team to find a way to keep Corvette without requiring the GT3 conversion.
“Corvette and all the brands in IMSA are very important partners of ours,” series president John Doonan told RACER. “We want to do everything we can to make their continued participation as relatively easy as possible. So we’re in a decision mode, working very closely with the partners at Corvette Racing, GM as well, and all the other manufacturers to make sure that we can put them in a position to be able to continue to compete, right away, in GTD Pro, with an eye on what we can do with them going forward.”
Although Corvette Racing has yet to formally commit to GTD Pro, it’s believed a waiver will be granted by the series that will allow the General Motors factory outfit to use a detuned version of the GTLM C8.R for the first season or two of GTD Pro.
“In the end, it’s their company’s decision to make relative to creating a GT3-spec car,” Doonan said. “And we’ll let them be the ones to share that news when they’re ready to. But for the short term, IMSA is putting ourselves and everybody who’s involved, from the tire makers to all the other manufacturers, in a position to let folks compete as easily as possible, given their current product, and to also have an eye on the future, which would be using only GT3-spec cars.”
Of the other brands represented in GTLM and the FIA WEC’s GTE category, Aston Martin, BMW, and Porsche have existing or upcoming GT3 models that comply with GTD Pro regulations, and to date, no requests to detune and use their GTLM/GTE cars in the new GT3-based class are believed to have been received. It leaves Corvette as the lone outlier for GTD Pro, but as Doonan shares, the other manufacturers have been supportive of having the C8.Rs compete with a special Balance of Performance formula applied.
“To be honest with you, we try never to make decisions in a vacuum,” he said. “So as we have allowed the market to speak, they’ve spoken in a forum that each of them can hear one another, and that includes Corvette Racing. Right now, nobody is giving us any blowback about trying to make it work, both in the short and the long term.”