Cost and the ‘spirit’ of GT racing prompt Le Mans move to GT3

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Cost and the ‘spirit’ of GT racing prompt Le Mans move to GT3

Le Mans/WEC

Cost and the ‘spirit’ of GT racing prompt Le Mans move to GT3

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Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, and Richard Mille, the president of the FIA Endurance Commission, have provided a few more details of their plan to replace GTE with GT3 cars in the FIA WEC and at the Le Mans 24 Hours from 2024 onwards.

In the initial announcement earlier today there were no details on the class structure or performance level of the GT3 cars, but they were able to give a little more information on this shift in a media huddle after the ACO’s annual press conference, as well as confirm that the GTE Pro and GTE Am class structure would remain in place until the end of 2023.

Ultimately, the direction the FIA and ACO wish to move in is a Pro-Am-only GT3 formula, without any full factory teams running in a separate Pro class. However, no final decisions on the structure have been made — something that was clear from the the answers provided to the key questions surrounding this matter today.

“At this stage it is a bit premature,” Mille said when asked about the general plans for GT3. “It’s the same objective as we had for the Hypercar — it must be cost-saving. One of the biggest parameters to handle is that we shall be looking at a category where the manufacturers cannot enter officially because you have the Hypercar and we want to have good battles, so one of the main topics is to prevent the manufacturers from entering the category. That’s the spirit of what LM has always been with GTs.”

Preventing manufacturers from entering in a single GT3 class would be a blow for the likes of Corvette, which currently competes in IMSA’s GTLM class and is working on competing in GTD Pro next season with its C8 platform, as it would prevent it from competing at Le Mans going forward.

When asked specifically what this would mean for Corvette Racing, Fillon said, “They can come to Le Mans with three drivers, amateur drivers.” But neither he nor Mille would confirm that Corvette would be able to enter the category under its factory team name.

“Again, we’re at an early stage — we need to keep the spirit,” Mille said, “We know what the platform will be but from this platform, we’ll have to work on the developments.”

Mille also wouldn’t rule out a second GT category to mirror IMSA’s GTD and GTD Pro structure for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after this season.

“At this stage no (we can’t rule out a Pro class), but we have a clear idea of what the platform will come from. This is the main issue, but again, we need to work on the objectives,” he said.

“Today GTE is very costly. This is something we don’t want. We had the same approach with Hypercars, because we know where we’re coming from in terms of budget. And this is why we could conclude with our American friends, because we have the same objectives.

“We have to be politically correct. Motor racing in the recent past was considered not very politically correct, so we have to show the way, as we explained this morning, with the fuel etc. (referring to the switch to 100% renewable fuel), and again, with the budget.”

As for the performance level of the GT3 cars in the WEC, Fillon did confirm that there would be a drive to keep costs low. It is therefore unlikely that we would see heavily modified GT3 cars compete.

“It has to be marginal, low cost and, one more time, it’s not decided,” Fillon explained. “Maybe it will be exactly GT3? We’re working on the basis of GT3. We’ll have the answer by the end of the year, because we need to discuss this with the (FIA) Endurance Commission and to validate this by the World Motor Sport Council.”

 

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