All through the golden age of sports car racing, classes were pretty straightforward. Cars were put in groups, the faster the car, the higher the class. It didn’t take long for this to get out of hand.
What had been somewhat orderly classes when Ford GTs were battling Ferraris at Le Mans in the 1960s ballooned through the 1970s, and going into the 1980s the FIA, top organizers for international sports car racing rationalized pretty much everything into three basic letters. Group C was for prototypes. Group B was for low-volume homologation specials racing on track and in rallies. Group A was for the cheap seats, with high-volume production based cars filling out entry lists with slower cars.
This was going great until Group B got so fast people started crashing and dying, Group C got too expensive, and then Group A was all that was left. Everyone sort of wandered in the wilderness for a few years in the early ‘90s until the triumphant return of racing grand touring cars with GT1. These were the fastest GT cars, and they got the fastest possible number, 1. This ‘90s renaissance, of course, also went wrong when Porsche started bending the rules, making everything so expensive that everyone went back to racing prototypes to save money.
GT racing, starting in the 2000s, was left to fracture off into a vast number of different classes. It had gotten so complicated that by 2012 we had to commission a class-by-class guide. Even that guide is long out-of-date, with the top GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans now being two overlapping classes, with GTE Pro and GTE Am being differentiated by either all-professional drivers sharing a car, or some pros sharing a car with rich dentists on vacation.
Why the somewhat boutique GTE class exists for the top levels of GT racing while the much more common GT3 class fills out races across the globe, with many more teams, manufacturers, and interesting cars, I do not know. I do not try to know! Attempting to understand racing regulations means understanding the workings of the FIA, ACO, and IMSA. If you can ever get to the bottom of three different national and international bureaucratic organizations, two in France and one in America, you shouldn’t be reading this site. You should be working at the UN, solving climate change. Anything, please, your talents are better spent elsewhere.
In any case, these governing bodies agreed that GTE is going away and GT3 will take its place, as RACER reports:
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.
What this means for the cars themselves is somewhat hazy, as the GT3 class itself will be getting some revisions between now and then. All we can say is that the organizers want these cars to be focused on amateur drivers, as Sportscar365 reports, with what would be a ban on factory teams.