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Gaw: WEC Shouldn’t “Lose Sight” of GTE Opportunities

AMR’s John Gaw: WEC shouldn’t “lose sight” of opportunity for GTE…

Photo: WEC/Adrenal Media

Aston Martin Racing’s John Gaw believes the FIA World Endurance Championship shouldn’t “lose sight” of the opportunity that GTE has, amid radical changes to the globe-trotting series for next year.

The WEC will shift to a winter schedule, beginning with the 2018-19 “Super Season” which sees eight races over an 18-month period, while consolidating the LMP1 class into a single category and planning for a new set of technical regulations for 2020.

While LMP1 has taken a big hit with the withdrawals of both Audi and Porsche, Gaw, the Managing Director for Motorsport at Prodrive, said it’s crucial to find a way to put the production-based cars more in the spotlight. 

“There’s five manufacturers racing in GTE,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s obviously going quite well because there’s more manufacturers coming. There’s more manufacturers interested. So there’s nothing broken about GTE, I don’t think.

“I think it’s important as the LMP1 issue gets sorted, we don’t lose sight of the opportunity that GT has, and we find a way to maximize the exposure of that to continue to attract new manufacturers.”

One of the proposals on the table was the introduction of qualifying races for next year, which, despite an agreement in principle having been made between manufacturers, has been shelved for next season in the wake of the revised calendar.

Gaw feels there could be other options to explore to help raise GTE’s profile. 

“The qualifying race was one way to do that; whether the qualifying race itself was a perfect or great idea, I’m sure there’s other ideas or ways of doing that,” he said.

“The U.S. do GT-only races. I’m not saying that would work for WEC but there’s other ways of doing it.

“I’m in support of anything that improves the show for the manufacturers. Manufacturers go racing to sell cars and that’s how the race teams get budgets.

“Anything that helps that is a good thing.”

While in general support of the shift to a winter season, Gaw feels it won’t lead to as drastic of a cost reduction for some teams as initially projected.

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said he expects the eight-round “Super Season” to be at the same costs to competitors this year, while projected to be 20 percent less the following year.

“Cutting costs is an interesting subject,” Gaw said. “The main costs are not the actual, physical racing costs. The main costs are development, overheads, people, equipment. The number of races really don’t affect that.

“For teams like Ford or ourselves and some of the LMP2 teams that are based at Silverstone, dropping the Silverstone race doesn’t really affect the budget for the year.

“But if it keeps the championship alive and progressing and going forward, I am. it does.

“LMP1 is part the World Endurance Championship. It’s part of the family and the way things work. It has to be kept and the Super Season will help it.

“I just think what we have to do at the same time is not just focus on saving LMP1. We have to focus on maximizing a brilliant GT [class].

“If there’s no show for them to activate behind and therefore sell cars, then the marketing budgets become tighter and you get less manufacturers. So you want to maximize it so the future is secure.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. jason

    September 8, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Oh I agree with Gaw let there be no doubt. But I always feel the WEC has treated GT as a side show. Whereas IMSA gives GT racing the respect it deserves and treats it on a equal level with protos or even gives it a bigger deal with the 2 all GT rounds. That can be seen in the IMSA TV broadcasts too Notice how on lap 1 the camera almost always pans to GTLM after the first couple corners. I think that is brilliant.

    I hope that if the full season DPI grid in 2018 is large enough then maybe all GT races at Laguna Seca or CTMP could be possible yet.

    My advice for John Gaw is a simple one: Enter Aston Martin into IMSA GTLM in some sort of capacity.

    • Matt

      September 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I hope the fuck not that they would put a gt only race at ctmp, that’s my home track and I love watching the speed differential between the prototypes and the gt cars. I think that instead imsa should have a gt only race at mid-Ohio.

    • Mike

      September 8, 2017 at 10:01 am

      > I hope that if the full season DPI grid in 2018 is large enough then maybe all GT races at Laguna Seca or CTMP could be possible yet.

      Absolutely not. Those are the exact two tracks that NEED Prototype presence because they’re the type of track designed for downforce. The spectacle of prototypes there are massive and an instant sell to any new fan.

      • jason

        September 8, 2017 at 10:35 am

        I did not mean that. Split class races. Of course the DPI’s still would run there.

    • tracer

      September 8, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Why Ferrari and Aston Martin don’t bring full fledged factory backed efforts to IMSA is beyond me.

      • jason

        September 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        2018 will be a great chance to do it with just 4 WEC races

      • Andrew

        September 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm

        Ferrari doesn’t have any full fledged factory teams like the others. Think they like having Risi fly the banner and provide them with the top flight factory drivers to keep the car on the sharp end of the grid.

        And AMR has just always seemed to want a measuring contest with US sanctioning and refusing to bend to the promoter’s will. No problem with that it’s just they get to make the rules if you want to play in their sandbox. Options are don’t race and make your own sandbox, or pay to play along. The Conti cars have not been eligible for manufacturer points and think Dalla Lana paid the WSC fee for the cars to run in the past.

    • Guest

      September 8, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      If grids got big enough, I wouldn’t mind Mosport and Laguna to be 2, 2h split races. Then Road America can be 4h combined.

  2. Mo

    September 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

    With the speed of the LMP2s now, I wish they would give GTE/GTLM more speed.

    • 996corsa

      September 8, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Agreed, the PC class is no more in 2018, So no need for IMSA to balance GTLM class speeds to slot in below. Ditto for WEC/LeMans. GTLM/GTE speeds should rise! Let the ACO figure out their own GTE bop for ELMS & AsLMS to play nice with the LMP3 cars in those series.

  3. GridS2Plaza

    September 8, 2017 at 9:35 am

    GTE is structured such that a true world championship could be formed by using a portion of the IMSA races with some of the WEC rounds.

    A nice concept would be the NAEC rounds plus the standalone events in IMSA plus select WEC rounds to make up a GTE world championship.

    That would be a nice concept to bring IMSA and WEC/FIA in collaboration on the one class that is most closely aligned currently.

    I think the GTE teams/manufacturer’s would also get behind this concept.

  4. vanillachinilla

    September 8, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I actually don’t really like the GT only races too much, its a cool spectacle but IMSA is better with Prototypes and GTs having to sort it out, thats sports car racing to me. There’s a reason I don’t watch Blaincpain, its just a GT parade.

    I would caution his words about GTs health though – it was not long ago the same/similar could be said for LMP1. I still think GTE costs are too high given that GT3 is so much more versatile, especially when you consider that GT classes arent really giving manufacturers the road relevance theyre looking for when they go to P1/Formula E. I understand the marketing value is high – but I’d like to see GTLM/GTE shift towards more of a mix of factory/customer entries to be considered healthy. Nothing is healthy when its just factory teams – ask DTM, P1, etc etc

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      September 8, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Agreed, the GT only races are the least interesting to me in IMSA. The mixing of the classes is what adds that extra element to the racing.

    • Change it up

      September 8, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Would be cool of the GS class in the continental series were added into the IMSA GT only races

    • Andrew

      September 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      But by that same token GT3 is becoming more a manufacturer playground lately too. You’re only getting to the front with the best backing and the best pro drivers any more it seems. Even the 24 hour races, usually the last hope of the true privateer, have become manufacturer battles with fleets of cars entered.

      There are certain tracks where GTs work, VIR as much as everyone loves it is just too tight of a track for a great mixed race and Lime Rock is well Lime Rock, it’s the Bristol of sportscars. Even if protos looked good at LRP, they can’t run together, it would be a literal nose-to-tail parade and duller than paint drying.

    • Me

      September 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      They do formula e to appease politicians, not for road relevant r&d.

    • Axl Rose ate my Buick

      September 11, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Totaly agreed. GTE was in trouble just some years ago.

  5. Juninho

    September 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    ALMS Rolex 24 at Daytona 26-27th January 2019
    WEC 24 Hours of Daytona 23-24th February 2019
    ALMS/WEC Twelve Hours of Sebring 12th March 2019

    • Juninho

      September 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      ALMS/WEC Twelve Hours of Sebring 16th March 2019

  6. Steven

    September 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Kill off GTE and bring in the GT3 class. Run as two separate classes as Pro and Pro/AM. Done.. There is far more manufacturers in GT3 and the BoP is already nearly spot on.

    GTE is another class that will not have new manufacturer presence because the costs are ridicules just to be 1-2 seconds faster than the lower GT class.

    The only loser in killing off GTE is Ford, but they are leaving after 2019 anyways so it doesn’t even matter.

    • Thomas

      September 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Except that BMW are confirmed for next year and it appears that Lamborghini and McLaren are coming in 2019

    • Ryan Oliver

      September 9, 2017 at 1:14 am

      That’s the dumbest thing ever.
      All it will do raise the price of GT3.

  7. juneracer

    September 9, 2017 at 8:31 am

    most GT3s are nearly the same cost as GTE/GTLMs now. not sure how you cost cap that at this point…and both are expensive to run. if homologation required more robust parts with longer lifing, including engine life, that would reduce cost. as maintenance is a large cost of running the cars.

  8. Juninho

    September 9, 2017 at 9:07 am

    ALMS in 2019

    LMP1
    LMP2
    GTE-Pro
    Pro-Am

    WEC in 2018-19

    LMP1
    LMP2
    GTE-Pro
    GTE-Am

  9. dj

    September 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

    GTE is really why I watch WEC but with that said remember what happened in the late 90’s. The manufacturers made GTE essentially a prototype series with fast and ridiculously fast “GTE” cars that didn’t reflect the street cars.

  10. Axl Rose ate my Buick

    September 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

    “The number of races really don’t affect that.”

    And its just one of the team´s manager basically saying that this new calendar is a disgrace.

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