IMSA’s GTLM class had been slowly dying for at least a few seasons, and has finally been shuffled off the track for the 2022 season. As you should probably know by now, the class has been replaced with a new factory-backed pros-only class called GTD Pro, which is exactly what it sounds like. These are more or less the same GT3 machines that have been racing in GTD since the merger of ALMS and Grand Am in 2014.
To differentiate the GTD Pro class from the standard GTD class, teams will be allowed to run a slightly different balance of performance, potentially different tires, and full factory-backed pro driver lineups. Of course, following a test last week, the class will make its competition debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. There are still a few manufacturers and teams that aren’t ready to announce their plans quite yet, but it’s starting to look like GTD Pro will be a pretty stacked class.
As of right now there are only five full-season cars confirmed for the class. That’s one Lexus, two BMW M4 GT3s, and a pair of de-rated Corvette C8.Rs. Of course five cars is still two more than were committed for the 2021 season, so that’s already an improvement, but according to a report from Racer.com’s Marshall Pruett, a bunch more are waiting in the wings.
Pruett says the racing community should expect an Aston Martin Vantage, a Ferrari 488, two or more Lamborghini Huracans, two Mercedes AMG GT3s, and two Porsche 911 GT3s. I’ve independently corroborated at least one of those Porsches will be run by the 2021 GTD championship-winning Pfaff Motul team from Canada. So that’s over a dozen GTD Pro cars on the grid for the Rolex next month, and at least 8 or 9 cars for the full season, and I could not be more here for it.
While the Acura NSX, Audi R8, and McLaren 720S are homologated to compete in the class, it doesn’t seem any teams will be taking those programs into the Pro category.
I’m not generally in favor of separate Pro and Am categories driving what amounts to the same basic cars, as it typically makes the racing significantly more confusing for casual fans. That said, in this case it looks like the reduction in expense for massive international manufacturers and the privateer teams running them will result in swelling grids, and that’s almost never a bad thing. More cars, more racing, better on-track action, and hopefully an improved experience for the series, the teams, the OEMs, and the fans alike. What could go wrong?