Imposing a limit of two cars per manufacturer in the FIA WEC’s new-for-2024 LMGT3 class is “on the table”, according to the head of Le Mans Endurance Management, Frédéric Lequien, to ensure variety and enough grid spaces for loyal teams and factories.
In a media roundtable discussion yesterday at Portimao, Lequien hinted that interest is high for the new LMGT3 category next year, meaning tough decisions will need to be made by the selection committee to ensure the grid is diverse and rewards loyalty from Hypercar manufacturers and teams to the championship.
Spaces will be at a premium for the LMGT3 class, as the Hypercar field is set to expand further in 2024, with the likes of Alpine, BMW and Lamborghini joining the array of manufacturers already on the grid. With a limit on the number of full-season cars due to the number of garage spaces at certain circuits, pleasing everyone will be a near-impossible task.
“One of the ideas on the table is to have two GT3s per manufacturer, and give priority to the manufacturers involved in Hypercar,” he explained. “Saying that, we like diversity also. The perfect situation would be to have spaces for marques, and brands, not in Hypercar. We have to find a fair regulation.
“The idea is that the OEMs will choose the teams.”
What does this mean for manufacturers in GTE that have more than two customer teams in the FIA WEC, and the OEM in Aston Martin, which has been part of the FIA WEC since its inception but has no Hypercar programme?
“This is something we must take into consideration, loyalty to the championship,” Lequien said. “In a way, the success of hypercars can bring some other problems. What do we do if we have 26 Hypercars? We have 12 (10) places for GT. We will see.”
The expansion of Hypercar is also likely to spell the end of the LMP2 class in the FIA WEC, outside of the Le Mans 24 Hours, from next season. Instead, the teams in the LMP2 marketplace that aren’t set to join Hypercar from next season, will have to look further afield to programmes in the European and Asian Le Mans Series, where LMP2 cars will remain the top class.
While Lequien was unable to confirm this change or the two-car limit for GT3 factories, at this stage, as both are subject to approval by the FIA World Motorsport Council, he said an announcement is targeted for the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
“We have to respect the process,” he said. “We discussed with the teams, we have explained to them that LMP2 is the top class in the ELMS and Asian Le Mans Series (going forward), and still eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with around a minimum of 15 places.
“But we may have the possibility (of reintroducing LMP2 to the FIA WEC if there wasn’t enough GT3 and Hypercar interest combined), but not for next season.”