Saturday, October 13, 2012

GT rules: A single unified GT class, Audi R8 LMS at Le Mans?

By Tarek Ramchani

The next few years will be crucial for the world of Sportscar and GT racing. 2014 will see new regulations for Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship come into play, mainly regarding the top LMP1 class. Porsche will also returning to La Sarthe with a full factory LMP1 effort. In North America, the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am will merge for the first time.

Now it is the turn of the Grand Touring division to also make its own revolution as we head towards 2015. Until now there were two major classes, GTE and GT3. GTE (Grand Touring Endurance) for Le Mans which included both the ELMS and ALMS. The GT3 class is very a different class of car and was adopted in many national GT and some international series, which included the Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe. The Audi R8 LMS ultra is of course part of the current GT3 regulations. Many customer teams are running the "R16" successfully worldwide.

Audi R8 LMS ultra at Le Mans, the short Bugatti track
We already gave our point of view of how it was impossible to see the Audi R8 LMS ultra with the current rules competing at Le Mans, you can read it right here. Now things are set to change. Both the ACO and the FIA have agreed to make a single and unified GT class for 2015. This new class will make sure to keep costs under control and will somehow be similar to the current GT3 formula in terms of performances while developing a more stable set of rules. GTE cars are now extremely expensive and with a lack of competitors in both FIA WEC and ELMS it was obvious that the class is declining. A single class of course means that doors may open for the Audi R8 LMS to compete at Le Mans. Nothing is clear at the moment on how the class will be. It could possibly be a full set of new regulations which would require the building of new cars, or it could use the same FIA GT3 rules format which is based on the infamous "Balance of Performance" which would keep the very large variety of GT3 cars that run around the globe on track.

In any case Audi fans are desperate to see the R8 LMS running at the big Circuit de La Sarthe. And even more so for the possibility of taking the GT honours at Le Mans after many other prestigious 24 hour victories as the Nurburgring 24 Hours and the Spa 24 Hours.