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Marquardt: GTE-Pro to Be “More into the Focus” Amid LMP1 Fallout

BMW’s Marquardt believes GTE-Pro will “more into focus” in 2018…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt believes LMP1’s uncertain future, amid Porsche’s withdrawal, will put the GTE-Pro class “more into the focus” in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year.

The German manufacturer is set to enter the WEC in 2018 with its all-new BMW M8 GTE, joining Ford, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche in GTE-Pro, which is set to reach double-digit numbers in the full-season for the first time.

While Porsche’s LMP1 exit has come just days after Mercedes-Benz announced it would leave DTM at the end of 2018, also for Formula E, Marquardt sees the changing motorsport landscape as a positive for GT racing in general.

“It’s sad that in a week we had two announcements that are not positive for motorsport in general,” Marquardt told Sportscar365. “At the same time, often when something is changing, there is an opportunity.

“Porsche at the same time highlighted that they’re going to strengthen the GT and GTE effort, which is great. We’re entering [GTE-Pro] and we’re happy to fight the guys from Zuffenhausen and Weissach.

“I think, within the WEC championship, this strengthens the category and hopefully shows how attractive everything is.

“There are many manufacturers that have GT cars that are not yet GTE cars, and maybe that’s creating a bit of a pull in that respect.

“I think there is definitely a good chance of a GTE to, for sure, become more visible and more into the focus.”

Marquardt has noted the steps that have already been taken this year, in the creation of world championship titles for GT drivers and manufacturers, which has put a greater focus on the production-based category.

“If you watch Le Mans this year, the main race, honestly speaking, was the GT race,” he said.

“LMP2 was good as well, but from a manufacturer point of view, the GT race was one of the best that I’ve seen in many years.”

Lamborghini’s Head of Motorsport, Giorgio Sanna, agrees that the developing situation in LMP1 could be a boost to GT racing on a global scale.

While currently evaluating a future GTE program, Sanna admitted the Italian manufacturer would “of course” be more interested in committing to the category should it become the top class in the WEC and at Le Mans.

“It could be that GT will become the protagonist in Le Mans or in the WEC,” Sanna told Sportscar365. “It would also be a good momentum for all the manufacturers involved in GT racing.

“We cannot forget that LMP2, in terms of the market, is doing well.  There were many cars at Le Mans.

“But of course in order to have a big show, you need factory drivers and factory involvement and today that’s not possible in LMP2. So Something has to happen.”

Marquardt, meanwhile, believes there still needs to be prototypes at the sharp end of the grid, suggesting a potential for a DPi-like platform could be the best solution.

“I honestly think that the step that was made with LMP2 was a good one for prototypes,” Marquardt said.

“Seeing the two concepts, the DPi concept in the U.S. and the LMP2 concept, it’s maybe something between the two of them to discuss.

“It’s worth the ACO watching what happens in the U.S. because there are manufacturers involved and the manufacturer platform like DPi is maybe worth also looking at.

“I think the same on GTE level and there you are again with a strong and healthy championship.”

The BMW Motorsport boss, however, stressed that a quick fix or decision on the championship’s format should not be taken overnight, even amongst continued talks of qualifying races for GTE cars for next year.

“When something like that happens, it’s best to think and not overreact, but react and think what is best for the overall situation and then come up with good ideas,” Marquardt said.

“We are in contact with the ACO and for sure that will intensify over the next weeks and get all the manufacturers involved into a process of together working out what’s best for the platform at the moment.”

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

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. slow

    July 31, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Well the WEC doesn’t have anything else come next year outside of amateur classes so that is probably accurate.

    • NAKA

      July 31, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Lets for a moment assume the rumoured privateer P1 entries turn up, they would very likely have all pro driver lineups, and free engine options. That opens up the opportunity for manufacturer engines and badging.The opportunities are very similar to DPI’s. That’s before we know what changes the ACO make, ie allowing manufacturers into P1-L as full constructors.

      • slow

        July 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        No one cares about privateer P1 outside of its opportunity to make fun of ByKolles…. The ACO is absolutely not going to let manufactures into P1L if Toyota is still twiddling its thumbs there next year.

        • TF110

          July 31, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          Says who? Random guy on internet knows what ACO will do before they even announce their plans… I find that hard to believe.

          • slow

            July 31, 2017 at 2:39 pm

            yeah, they’re totally going to say “come on guys bring in your 15-20million dollar prototype to run just as fast as these guys 100million dollar car”.

            That surely wont piss off Toyota..

            Frankly I don’t care what you find hard to believe. I bet 2 weeks ago you didn’t believe Porsche was out…

          • Andy Flinn

            August 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm

            Says anyone paying attention for the past year, TF110.

            After all, the ACO banned manufacturer-involved DPis from Le Mans and LMP2 to protect the LMP1 hybrid class.

            Granted, it was a dumb move which has already backfired (Audi and Porsche quit LMP1, LMP2 has been technologically neutered with a spec engine). But the stubborn ACO will certainly continue to do all they can to protect LMP1 hybrid and avoid admitting any mistakes.

          • TF110

            August 3, 2017 at 1:10 am

            Audi and Porsche left because of dieselgate. Not the rules, not the costs. Just because they spent a lot of money doesn’t mean that’s the downfall of the class. Now that they’re gone, you don’t need to spend that much money to be competitive. And the ACO has rules in place for non-hybrid cars to be nearly as fast. Lower weight, more power, more fuel, more aero freedom. DPi is a bop class, not fit for lmp1. That’s what they rely on to be competitive. On top of that, none of those guys have an intention on joining the WEC. They might go to LeMans if they’re allowed, but that’s it. This ‘DPi is the answer’ wish is just that, a wish.

        • phil

          August 1, 2017 at 8:36 am

          If they hadn’t had a prior engine issue, they could have won le mans this year. People made fun of Arrows in 1997. Well, until Hungary they did…………

          • Andy Flinn

            August 1, 2017 at 4:26 pm

            Uh, Goodgrief that’s what they said about the Grand-Am DPs before they “sped them up” for the new IMSA series. Then, many of those SAME people cried worse than babies without their binkies when the DPs won IMSA races and championships.

            A Cadillac DPi could have won Le Mans THIS year.

          • CD

            August 2, 2017 at 9:25 am

            Andy Flinn keeps forgetting, they sped up those DP turtles and slowed down the P2’s to give the DP’s a fighting chance. P2’s were neutered. Of course they should have been ticked. Who wouldn’t have.

          • Anthony B Thomas

            August 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm

            Nobody largely cares about P1, I’m not quite sure who does. I mean the best race for two decades has been happening behind them = GT

            Door to Door, fighting for position, within seconds of each other.

            I thought the fans wanted close racing? Look I have said for the better part of a decade that GT was and IS the answer. If you wanna have prototypes they have to be tied to the street cars somehow for it to work.

            I knew the LMP1 thing wouldn’t last with F1 style budgets and not nearly the fan base or presence of F1. Remember F1 is such a valuable property on TV that people PAY FOR IT. While WEC and Weathertech’s deal on Fox Sports is just a holdover from the Speed Channel largely and adding filler in-between UFC, MLB and College Football.

            In-fact FS’s TV deals with MLB and NASCAR largely PAYS for the WeatherTech series. What else will be a boon for FS is the CFB Playoffs not IF they happen anymore but WHEN. The check they will force adversers to write will be enough for Weathertech and WEC to be continued to be shown live and in it’s entirety for years to come.

            If WEC is the focus then great fans will finally get they want which is close racing, no longing for prototypes.

      • RLL_335

        July 31, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        DPi is the top spot in prototypes now. Full stop.

  2. BrandenburgNoir

    July 31, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I know I’m likely to get roasted, but I wouldn’t mind at all if Le Mans became an all-GT affair.

    (obviously not going to happen anytime soon)

    • Slicks in the wet

      July 31, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      It needs SOME faster prototype class, though. Closed cockpit “proper” LMP cars, or crazy silhouette GT cars is fine by me.

      There are many 12-24hr races show it can work.

      • Phantom Lord

        July 31, 2017 at 12:31 pm

        Talking of “crazy silhouette GT cars”, I would be interested to know the costs of the GT500 cars in Super GT. Dunno if that would be feasible for a global championship?

        • NAKA

          July 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm

          Whenever GT has been the top class at Le Mans they’ve had technical specs much closer to the prototype class of the day. For example the mid-late ’90’s GT1’s had minimum weights of 900kg and 600bhp+.

          It’s difficult for modern supercars to hit those minimum weights. That, along with aerodynamics, is the major reason manufacturers go down the homologation special route.

          We are also in an era when P2’s can do 3.25 at Le Mans and are the backbone of the privateer field. No one in the ACO will scrap, or even slow those cars down enough, to allow a modified GTE be competitive.

          All said and done, its easier to rebuild P1.

      • Anthony B Thomas

        August 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm

        Why? NASCAR stock cars aren’t the fastest thing on the planets surface yet get thousands of fans and good rating on TV. Same for NHRA Drag Racing, those are the fastest things in a straight line but they aren’t comparing themselves to other forms of motorsport.

        WEC and Weathertech would be JUST FINE with only GT cars. Blancpain is nothing but GT3 cars and continues to grow and the Pro class is growing in importance.The increased pace at the front is putting pressure on Pro Am classes which means the slow old guys are being forced out of the main show and going down into the Bronze Race the day before.

        Some will be fine with that and fund a pro class car such as Kaspersky did.

        Others will take their ball and go home possibly to GT Open or just quit.

        Some of these 50+ 60+ dudes like Howard Blank won’t be driving for forever and we’ve already seen Timo Bernhard’s team at Spa, the guard is changing before our eyes.

    • GridS2Plaza

      July 31, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      If Lemans became an all GT affair what would differentiate it from Nurburgring or Spa 24 hours which are already all GT affairs.

      Lemans needs to maintain a mix of prototype sportscars whatever that current incarnation is along with GTs.

      With factory P1 basically dissolving in the near term, there is no reason a 5 class race with P1-non hybrid, IMSA DPi, WEC/ELMS P2 and GTE Pro & AM would not work.

      IMSA classes have been integral with other classes at Lemans in the past and there should be no reason that it would not work now.

      The old Group C/IMSA GTP classes come to mind when comparing with current European P2/IMSA DPi.

      Even with 3 separate prototype classes there would still be more intrigue and possibilities for overall race victory between the classes than current when one of 2 or 3 factory P1 cars is assured of overall victory.

      GT3 cars should not be added to Lemans as there are already plenty of GT3 endurance options including Daytona and Sebring in addition to the European GT3 enduros.

      Lemans without the factory P1s could actually be far more exciting and should give greater exposure to the GTE class.

      • BrandenburgNoir

        July 31, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        Yeah, that’s right. P1-L vs. DPi could make for a very interesting scrap indeed!

        • ohgoodgrief

          July 31, 2017 at 8:22 pm

          The DPi would have to speed up a whole lot to run with the P1-L.

          Do you people even pay attention?

          • BrandenburgNoir

            July 31, 2017 at 8:45 pm

            I don’t think the DPis would actually be that far off the pace.

          • GridS2Plaza

            August 1, 2017 at 7:11 am

            Do you not read. My original remarks state 3 different prototype classes. DPi and LMP-L would not run in the same class.
            With reliability and the relative closeness of the 3 classes there would still be a better chance at any one of the 3 P classes winning overall than with current 2 or 3 factory teams so separated from all the other cars running that even going several laps down like this year they can still catch up and win.
            Trying to blend different P cars into one single class is a mistake. Long distance sports car racing and particularly Lemans has a long history of having many different classes running. In fact current Lemans structure with only 4 classes is much less than in years past.

          • Did Not Finish

            August 2, 2017 at 3:40 pm

            “ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil, however, revealed that DPis could be eligible in LMP1 non-hybrid with some modifications to meet the category’s technical regulations, primarily involving a power increase.

            It’s understood Cadillac’s 6.2-liter normally aspirated V8 engine is capable of achieving considerably more power than its current restricted form in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.”

      • Anthony B Thomas

        August 6, 2017 at 6:56 pm

        N24 is mainly about Germans racing other Germans, it’s a regional race, don’t confuse it’s presence online with it’s increase in international following, it’s not there.

        Spa24 is the Top of the heap event for GT3 and will remain so as long as ACO rebuffs SRO.

        Le Mans is largely boring at the front if you already know who’s going to win. Porsche had an uneventful run to the flag don’t pretend that didn’t happen and happens more often than it doesn’t.

        What usually happens is Toyota in the last two decades snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and now it looks like they might win Le Mans finally by DEFAULT.

        My contention the last 10 or so years if you seen my other post is summed up in your last paragraph.

  3. Mike S.

    July 31, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    The amount of all GT 10-12 hour races has grown so much and is still growing. I think 1 prototype 24 enduro with GT’s isn’t too much to ask keep it that way for now. Not smart diversity play long term to have all 24 hour races as GT only. All classes ebb and flow eventually.

    • Anthony B Thomas

      August 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      The amount of amuture hours has increased you mean. The 24hr series is a joke. The serious GT3 teams use Dubai has a warm up event for the Blancpain and VLN seasons.

      Bathurst 12 hours has actually turned into a much more serious event than even the V8 Supercar series race there.

      Outside of that the 24hrs series isn’t taken seriously by anybody other than new GT3 teams looking to get their feet wet.

      Classes don’t ebb and flow, what happens is that management of OEM’s change, customer demands change, that forces OEM’s to take their promotional dollars elsewhere.

      Racing is in Ford, GM, Dodge, BMW, MBZ, Porsche, Toyota, VAG, Nissan and Honda DNA.

      If you give them a place to race they’ll build a car for it. Honda wanted to run GT3 they didn’t have a car for it. So they built one based on the demand of the customer desire to have the NSX back.

      What NSX fans forget that in marketplace that screams HP, you can’t come to the party with a lightweight mid engine car around 300-400 hp, it just won’t get the job done.

      Anyway the OEM’s would be more inclined to promote WEC if it was GT based than if it continued down it’s current path of destruction.

      The only European not concerned about the growth of his series is Stephan Ratel, hmmm.

  4. angel

    July 31, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    If you poll non enthusiast and observe their interest which i have when watching televised races, they tend to direct interest towards GT class. Race on weekends and sell on weekdays. After all the common watcher far surpass gear heads.

    • Andy Flinn

      August 1, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Angel, from what I’ve seen, attendance and TV ratings for endurance events featuring prototypes as the top class (Le Mans, WEC, Daytona, Sebring, etc.) are far more popular than all-GT series and events.

      • Anthony B Thomas

        August 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        Which GT events? You mean World Challenge? Andy it would be okay for you to say that if you had a series that was GT based to compare it too but you don’t.

        Blancpain is seen on CBS Sports Network in it’s cut-down to 1 hour highlights format, it’s not seen in the Live on TV, it is LIVE on Nismo’s You Tube channel but you know that’s not how most people watch TV especially sports on TV, despite the fact almost every flat tv sold now has internet and You Tube on it by default.

        You are just one of these fans that refuse to see the end of an era that has been long in coming since Audi pulled out of ALMS, got what it wanted all along in the WEC but has to leave because how they make money directly impacts their racing activities.

        Porsche is apart of VAG like you didn’t see that coming.

        What’s more shocking in MBZ leaving DTM. That’s like Ford dropping out of Cup (which they have threaten before, a couple of times).

        Cup survives because of Toyota desire to supplant GM as America’s car company.

  5. Jason

    July 31, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I am a gtworld fan first and foremost, but I do admit that because we got events like the spa 24, I think we can sTay the course with less man’s and see how things play out naturally.

    • Jason

      July 31, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Auto type made me sound dumb sorry.

  6. N8

    August 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    WHAT IF…GTE does become the backbone for the World Championship? Maybe you have some GT only races like IMSA has. There’s a way to put GTE in the spotlight without hokey qualifying races. The budget for a 5 or 6 race Prototype championship that includes LM might then be more within the reach of some more P2 teams and privateer P1 teams alike.

    • Andy Flinn

      August 1, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I don’t see GTLM growing much if at all. Granted, it’s much healthier than ALMS GT1 2008.

      If GTLM was that attractive, that’s where Lexus, Acura, and the other manufacturers in GTD would already be competing, instead.

      On the other hand, GTLM does seem tailor made for some manufacturers (GM and Ford) that have absolutely no interest in selling customer cars, GTD or othewrwise.

      • Anthony B Thomas

        August 6, 2017 at 7:20 pm

        If convergence happen like many wanted it too, GT3 teams could make a minor investment and run their car at Le mans.

        To my knowledge the Ferrari 488 GT3 car is the only one that can be converted into a GT2/GTLM car with an upgrade kit.

        Besides P2 is so fast now that they had higher top speeds at Le Mans than the P1 cars. What holds them back is the Pro Am element.

        Sports car fans particularly Dailysportscar just believe it can’t survive if we aren’t trying to level the playing field for Duncan Cameron.

        At least he doesn’t complain and switch cars like a certain person does.

  7. EMG

    August 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    GT is good because BOP forces cars to be even. That’s not racing, it’s just show. Bring back Group C which was about saving fuel with any conceivable drivetrain and had up to 6 top level competitors at the same time (Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche, Nissan, Mazda and Toyota)

    • Anthony B Thomas

      August 6, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      LOL that is a Rose Colored glasses look at Group C. The reality was it turned many races into ECONOMY RUNS which FANS COMPLAIN ABOUT. With everybody slowing down 1-2 second per lap just to make it to the finish.

      Indy Car is has limited range, remember how Dancia Patrick won her ONLY Indy car race was on a econo run that’s why nobody wants to give her too much credit because she didn’t push her competition into submission based on race pace.

      A return to Group C is not an answer, having direct ties to what you sell IS.

  8. Bert

    August 3, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Auto racing in general is doomed…was a great hundred year run…sadly it will mean LeMans will be part of the past and the sounds of the engines will only be able to be heard on YouTube…GT racing may be the only saving grace…but even that may not be enough with the emergence of those damned E cars….

    • Anthony B Thomas

      August 6, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      The E cars are not a threat, because as long as electric cars have range problems and higher prices that the average joe picked that over a gasoline or diesel car you’ll have a long time to wait.

      GT cars is more closely tied to what OEM sells. The Germans are believing EV is the way to go because of hard diesel regulations in the United States and EU.

      • Anthony B Thomas

        August 6, 2017 at 7:37 pm

        Just to add I do agree in the long term professional auto racing is doomed because of unfettered growth since post WWII, now you have large populations in Asia, South America and Africa that want to same wasteful lifestyle we’ve enjoyed the past 70 or so years.

        Grassroots will continue because it’s carbon footprint is much smaller.

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