The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is set to adopt GT3 regulations from 2024 as a replacement for the GTE formula, meaning GT3 cars will be eligible to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time, and in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
This seismic change comes amid strong manufacturer interest in LMDh and Hypercar, and waning interest from factories for the current GTE regulations in the FIA WEC and IMSA. FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille outlined the change in today’s ACO press conference at Le Mans, but was light on details, meaning there are still many questions to be answered.
“As you know, GT is always an important perimeter for the ACO and FIA,” he said. “The current situation is that until 2023 we will keep the current categories in GTE, but from 2024 onwards we will have a new GT category, based on the GT3 platform. Our goal is to work on this during the second half of the year.
“We want all this to be finalized by the FIA World Motor Sport Council by the end of the year.”
With no clarity on class structure or the spec of the GT3 cars, big points of discussion remain. The main one is the question of whether or not there will be a Pro category for factories to compete in with all-pro driver crews.
RACER understands that GTE Pro won’t exist in the WEC or at Le Mans in 2023 (as Porsche and Ferrari, the only current WEC full-time factory teams, move into Le Mans Hypercar), meaning only customer teams will be eligible to race in the GTE Am category with Pro-Am line-ups.
However, no decision has been formally made yet on whether or not a GT3 Pro class will be introduced for 2024, allowing the numerous marques currently involved in GT3 but not GTE to race in the WEC as a factory.
One brand clearly affected by all this is Chevrolet, which currently competes in IMSA’s GTLM class and is working on competing in the new GTD Pro class from next season with a GT3-based Corvette C8. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. factory still have the chance to compete at Le Mans in the GT classes beyond 2023.
Another key question to be answered is the performance level of the GT3 cars that compete. Will they run as standard GT3 cars or as a form of “GT3 Plus” which would give them a more attractive level of performance, but surely add additional cost and make it tougher to compete in the other major GT3 series globally (including the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship), which all feature standard GT3 cars?
This could complicate the commitment of the ACO and IMSA to work together. Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO, and IMSA President John Doonan have just renewed the agreement binding their two organizations for the next decade.
Finally, whether or not a manufacturer needs to compete in the top class to be eligible to race in the GT ranks is seemingly up for debate. Manufacturer sources have suggested to RACER that there has been discussion around a potential restriction to teams in the new GT class for makes not already represented in the WEC in the new Hypercar class. This would mean a brand like Aston Martin would be unable to field customer cars or a factory GT entry, without a top class program.