Changes are happening across the endurance racing world, and they’re all being announced as the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway this weekend. Global manufacturers are using the legendary race as a pivotal time to have prepared or debuted their new Project GTP Hypercars for the GTP, formerly LMDh, class running at IMSA starting in 2023. Meanwhile, another change is in the works overseas, as Sportscar 365 confirms the ending of the World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Pro Class.
The WEC’s GTE-Pro Class is essentially the equivalent of IMSA’s former GTLM category, before it was recategorized with new homologation rules for the 2022 season as the GTD-Pro Class. Both categories, on either side of the ocean, featured factory-backed teams like Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Corvette. Here in the states the GTLM class was a ghost of its prior existence, with just a few manufacturers running in its final season. The ACO appears to be facing a similar issue, canning the idea of phasing out the GTE-Pro class through the 2023 season.
From Sportscar 365:
ACO President Pierre Fillon previously told Sportscar365 that a minimum of four full-season entries were needed to keep GTE-Pro alive for a final season, which has not materialized.
Both Porsche and Ferrari will be moving its factory programs to the Hypercar class in 2023, with Corvette Racing the only GTE manufacturer that had expressed hope of competing next year.
It means this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the last scheduled appearance for full factory GT cars with all-pro lineups in the French endurance classic.
Competitors are just near non-existent for the making of a competitive 2023 GTE-Pro class. With Ferrari and Porsche jumping over to the Hypercar category, new for both the WEC and IMSA for the 2023 season, the WEC would be left with Corvette competing by itself in the Pro class, similar to the ACO’s LMP1 dilemma a few years back when Toyota was left to compete against itself.
Now, ACO is left with the same option as IMSA, with the GTD class absorbing the GTLM factory teams. For the WEC that means factory teams will be able to join the GTE-AM. There they will be expected to make adjustments to factory cars to fit GT3 category regulations, including the addition of a required aero kit. Luckily, the last remaining factory GTE-Pro team, Corvette, is already familiar with adjusting its C8s for GT3 competition, with their GTD-Pro car running in IMSA this year. So, the pivot for the WEC team, will likely be an easy one.