GT Daytona class entrants in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have largely supported IMSA’s move to align the new-for-2022 GTD Pro category more closely with GTD next year, in what “extends a lot of opportunities” to the overall platform according to one team owner.
Announced during last weekend’s ‘State of the Sport’ address, the two GT3-based classes will now run under the same sporting regulations except for class-specific driver pairing requirements, providing the chance for teams to field cars in both classes with more ease.
It also opens up the chance for a Pro-Am-based GTD car to take the fight to GTD Pro entires and win overall amongst the production-based ranks, similar to what’s seen in SRO Motorsports Group-run GT3 championships worldwide.
“I think it’s good for the class and good for the sport,” Vasser Sullivan team co-owner Jimmy Vasser told Sportscar365.
“To have separation within the same [platform of cars] before with different BoP and something with the fuel rigs [was something we were not in favor of].
“It’s reassuring that they had a second thought and are doing what’s right for the class as a whole.”
Vasser believes that a Pro-Am lineup in GTD could now “go and fight” for outright GT honors.
“If they could go claw their way into the Pro-Pro [rankings], that’s worth a beer afterwards,” he said. “I think it will be exciting for those teams and even for the fans.”
Compass Racing team owner Jill Beck believes the near-identical ruleset between the two classes will “move out” some of the so-called ‘pro-pro’ lineups that already exist in GTD to make way for more traditional Pro-Am driver pairings.
“It extends a lot of opportunities,” she told Sportscar365. “Our program as a customer-based team, I always see us being a Pro-Am pairing.
“But that’s cool because the Pro-Pro teams will be moved out [of GTD] and we’ll have opportunities to get on the podium as well.
“I think it will open the field. It will be interesting to see how it effects involvement and customers, as far as people wanting to come into the series and the class as well.”
Team Hardpoint EBM team owner/driver Rob Ferriol said the change could enable his team to enter a car each in both classes next year.
“I think being able to field a GTD Pro car as well as a traditional GTD allows both the team to grow and build and scale off a pro level car and use both of those data sets,” Ferriol told Sportscar365.
“As drivers, having both the pro car and traditional car under the tent, the drivers in that Am car, so-to-speak, are able to learn off that GTD Pro car. I think it’s a positive.
“My goal for next year would be to have one of each. That would be a perfect scenario for me.”
Vasser, who has been evaluating a similar approach for his team, said the latest changes could help make it reality for 2022.
“With that move I think you’re going to see more GTD teams [move up],” he said. “In our case, it clearly makes it a lot more enticing to go one and one (one car in GTD Pro, one in GTD).
“We’re certainly going to have a stronger look at it. I think it’s very positive.”
Turner: New Format “Confusing for the Fans”
Will Turner, however, doesn’t share the same beliefs as some of his fellow GTD team owners, suggesting the alignment of the technical and sporting regulations will create confusion for the fans.
“I was expecting there to be a difference in the classes, either in fueling time to go on different strategies or something like that,” he told Sportscar365.
“The biggest thing is that even today, my dad can’t figure out who’s in the lead in what class in SRO World Challenge.
“He’s like, ‘Wait, how did you guys finish third if you were seventh?’
“I’m like, ‘Well, we’re in Pro-Pro and that’s Pro-Am overall and there’s only four cars in Pro-Pro.’
“For the fan, you’re going to see a bunch of the same-looking cars. The car that finishes first will be the winner of something but there will be another winner.
“I think it’s confusing for the fans. Unless the Pro-Pro cars are hot pink neon flashing, I think the fans are going to get confused.
“Maybe we’ll have a bigger GT3 car count overall and it will be awesome. I don’t know.”
Turner said he’s undecided which class his team will race in next year, which could be further complicated by the fact of BMW’s planned factory effort in GTD Pro.
“My plan is to put Robby [Foley] and Bill [Auberlen] in a GT3 car,” said Turner. “I think it depends on what the advantage of running Pro-Pro with a Pro-Am combo.
“Is the prize money better? Does it cost more to enter? Is there more or less competition?
“If there’s three cars in Pro-Pro, why not do that and have a better shot of an overall win? But maybe it won’t be as rewarding. I don’t know.
“I guess it really depends who shows up. That’s the bottom line.”