IMSA President John Doonan said GT Daytona Pro could serve as a “bridge” to LMDh for teams and manufacturers looking to prepare for a move into top-class competition by as early as 2023.
The new-for-2022 category is expected to feature representation from multiple GT3 manufacturers, including BMW, which is preparing for a factory GTD Pro effort next year, although a parallel program once the German manufacturer’s LMDh program comes online in 2023 is undecided according to BMW M Motorsport boss Mike Krack.
At least one other manufacturer is believed to be eying up a similar scenario by utilizing GTD Pro in the short-term prior to a possible entry into the top class either the following year or in 2024.
Doonan said he would welcome such developments, as there would be “no net loss” in terms of manufacturer involvement, with OEMs instead just shifting its focus from GTD Pro to LMDh.
“I think we are in a transition between some homologations and new platforms,” he told Sportscar365.
“You could say you would lose them in one category to gain them in the other. There would maybe be no net loss.
“Certainly that’s all of our hopes. You may see some of that where they use 2022 as a bridge to 2023.”
While yet to receive an official commitment to the class by a manufacturer or team, Doonan still remains bullish on having a grid of between eight to ten cars next year.
In addition to BMW, Corvette Racing is known to be planning a two-car effort with a modified version of its Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, while Vasser Sullivan Racing (Lexus) and WeatherTech Racing (Porsche) are among others that are evaluating programs, as well as the potential of Lamborghini customer teams.
“I do feel there will be a sizable field in both [GTD] categories,” said Doonan. “I’m pretty certain you will have a nice half and half field size.
“From what we’re hearing in conversations around town, that still seems like a pretty realistic target.”
IMSA in “Ongoing Discussions” With Michelin for GTD Pro Future
Despite having announced plans to utilize its Pilot Sport S9M commercial tire for the class next year, Doonan said they remain in close dialogue with Michelin for future tire options beginning as early as 2023.
It could fall in line with the ACO’s expected decision to introduce a GT3-based class to its portfolio in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series in two years’ time.
Sportscar365 understands that current tire budgets in GT Le Mans and GTE are quite sizable due to the investment absorbed by each manufacturer for the development and testing of bespoke, ‘confidential’ tires.
“Our short-term vision was to use a known [tire] quantity,” Doonan said. “Let’s not have people go out and spend a bunch of money testing right now.
“Because we’re in transition, let’s take our time and do it right.”