The FIA WEC’s GTE Pro category has nearly completed its lifecycle and will soon be collapsing into a heap of bones and dust. What was once among the most factory-supported racing categories in history with efforts from Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Ford, and Chevrolet has become a shadow of its former self in just two seasons’ time. Aston and Ford pulled their factory efforts altogether, Porsche and BMW significantly scaled back. Ferrari was never truly serious about it. With the North American equivalent—IMSA’s GTLM class—set to be discontinued at the end of 2021, it’s safe to assume this specification ruleset is ready to be put out to pasture.
Porsche and Ferrari aren’t quite ready to watch GTE Pro be put out to pasture, however. The two automakers have announced that they will be building top flight prototypes to race in the biggest endurance events around the world, with Ferrari building a Le Mans Hypercar, while Porsche is focussing its efforts on the LMDh class ruleset. Crucially, neither car will be ready for prime time until the 2023 season.
Porsche and Ferrari have come to an agreement with the FIA to keep the half-assed racing class going through the end of the 2022 season with a two car effort from each of them. This guarantees both companies will be represented at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2022, and all of the potential marketing efforts that go along with that commitment. Porsche has pretty much lived at Le Mans each June since the 1950s, so it wouldn’t be great for the company to not be represented on the grid in an official capacity.
This year at Le Mans, the Porsche and Ferrari brigade will be joined by a Chevrolet Corvette effort, as well as a pair of privateer-entered Porsches from Proton Competition/WeatherTech and Taiwan’s HubAuto Racing. In spite of Corvette’s efforts shifting to IMSA’s GTD Pro class in 2022, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team reprise its efforts at the French endurance classic in 2022 so long as the GTE Pro category still exists. BMW has reduced its efforts in GTE to just a select few rounds of the IMSA championship in 2021, and it is rumored to be ending its program at that point. Maybe this re-affirmation from Porsche and Ferrari will get the other German to reconsider and run a Le Mans program next year. Who knows?
Porsche currently campaigns a mid-engine 911 RSR homologated on the 991-generation chassis which has since been discontinued, while Ferrari is running a 488 GTE which exited production in 2019. While Corvette introduced its new C8.R chassis for the 2019 season, and BMW’s M8 GTE bowed in 2018, they are the only two factory-effort current-generation GTEs left on the grid anywhere in the world.