IMSA President John Doonan says that the level of manufacturer participation will ultimately determine the future of the GT Le Mans class and whether the sanctioning body will pursue “convergence” between the two GT categories.
Speculation has run rampant whether IMSA will consolidate GTLM into its existing GT Daytona platform, currently comprised exclusively of GT3 machinery, by as soon as next year.
It comes amid Porsche’s decision to end its factory GTLM program at the conclusion of this season, leaving only Corvette Racing and potentially BMW with GTE-spec machinery in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Sportscar365 understands that IMSA has held talks with individual teams and manufacturers seeking input on future class structure, although more formal roundtable or group discussions have not yet begun.
“We as an organization are always strategizing and looking at what the future will be around homologation periods and things like that,” Doonan told Sportscar365.
“Long before I arrived there were discussions about what the future of GT racing will look like given that 2022 is the end of this current homologation period on GTLM.
“There’s all kinds of discussions on looking at what that is, had started before I arrived, and it has continued.”
At the moment, IMSA is committed to the current GTE and GT3 platforms through the end of the 2021 seasons, with a new set of regulations for GT3 having been announced for 2022 but could be delayed until 2023.
Doonan wouldn’t say whether GTE could be absorbed into GTD next year or if it would live out its planned homologation cycle.
“I think the market will speak,” he said. “Working with the manufacturers, first relative to those that have a big investment in GTLM, [we have to see] what’s best for their brand and what they’d like to showcase.
“For sure, [we’re also looking at] the privateer and customer racing teams that are in GTD, and what impact it has on their business model, and frankly on all of the manufacturers that are in GTD that provide a customer racing program.
“The cool thing for what we announced at Daytona relative to convergence on LMDh, what better way could all of us enjoy GT racing going forward if there was some sort of convergence of regulations.
“We’re hopeful but time will tell. We just need to be respectful of the current investments that everybody has made.”
Doonan said an “ideal” solution would be if GTE and GT3 were to converge globally, although indicated that’s not an absolute requirement for IMSA.
IMSA has in the past allowed non-FIA/ACO homologated cars, such as the BMW M6 GT3, into the GTLM class, and is believed to have those same allowances for GTD, which could theoretically place the new-for-2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R into the class.
Whether IMSA would then divide GTD up to Pro and Pro-Am classes, which has also been rumored, remains unclear.
“Time will tell,” Doonan said on convergence talks. “We’ve got a terrific partnership with the ACO, Pierre [Fillon], Gerard [Neveu], Thierry Bouvet and all of those guys. Everyone wants to do what’s right for the sport, over and above, we’ll see what the next months bring.”
Doonan said the 2021 class structure will not likely be decided until next year’s calendar is finalized, which he says they hope to announce “as soon as possible”.