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Marquardt: GT3 “Not Sustainable” with Factory Backed Teams

BMW’s Jens Marquardt warns GT3 is no longer sustainable due to factory efforts…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt believes the GT3 platform will no longer be sustainable if manufacturers continue to pour money into its so-called customer teams. 

A number of GT3-based championships, including the Blancpain GT Series and the GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, have seen a greater concentration of factory or works-supported operations in recent years.

The movement has pushed out a number of gentlemen drivers out of the platform, due to rising costs and the inability to compete alongside all-pro lineups with factory drivers, despite some series, such as the WeatherTech Championship, being Pro-Am enforced.

Marquardt has warned of the platform’s eventual collapse, should manufacturer support eventually end.

“For me, I would say this is not sustainable on that level,” he told Sportscar365. “It is a marketing activity for a manufacturer and then two years down the road they stop the marketing activity and then what do the customers do?

“That’s for sure not the BMW approach. We’ve really had very loyal customers to us and we’ve sold cars that are running really quite well in all championships.

“We help with drivers or technical support where we can and really help the teams to extract the real potential from the car, but that’s as far as it goes.

“If you look at it, we have been reasonably successful in that respect.”

While SRO has begun to take measures, in the limitation of all-pro lineups for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup for 2018, Marquardt said he’s most concerned about GT3’s future in IMSA.

The arrivals of both Acura and Lexus, initially under an agreement for only a single year of factory involvement, has led to other manufacturers stepping up its involvement in the class, whether through driver, engineering and/or financial support.

What’s more, IMSA has already taken a hit in full-season entries compared to last year.

Of the 21 GTD cars for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, only 11 are so far confirmed for the entire championship, compared to 15 from last year.

“If you look at the field here [in IMSA], honestly speaking, I think there is half and half customer and works effort,” Marquardt said.

“Lexus has two cars which, for me, are works cars. Acura’s main cars are also works cars.

“I have full respect for a guy like Will Turner who tries every year to get drivers together, to get a package together, to race in this super-highly competitive field. He is a true customer to us, so it is a difficult environment.”

Marquardt said he’s seen a similar situation develop in Europe, where manufacturers offer cars to customers at heavily discounted rates and other perks in order to switch to that brand.

“We’ve had teams that have been with us for a while come to us and say, ‘Look, you have to understand. We have to look at it commercially and what we’re getting as an offer from this other brand is good.

“‘We’d pay one-third of what we’d pay with you guys and get two cars and support and this and that.’

“At the end of the day, you have to understand that those guys really have to still make a living with the people they have.

“Obviously there are manufacturers that spend a lot of money on pulling people from one brand to another but for me, this is customer racing,” Marquardt said.

“I don’t think it’s the the right approach to basically sell the car half-price with a big package of parts or whatever.

“Other people can afford and want to [do that] but it’s not the strategy that BMW has.”

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

98 Comments

98 Comments

  1. jason

    January 18, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Agree with Marquardt here. GT3 is incredible and it has made sportscar racing awesome this whole decade. Costs need to be reigned in. SRO is working at it I’m sure. IMSA needs to do a better job. GTD should have close to 20 full season entries this year. But we’ll barely be at double digits.

    Their scheduling might be one reason. 11 races is too many I think. Still time to cut back on that by the way. Perhaps some extra cost containment regs specific to GTD can be introduced as well. Whatever that maybe.

    • Old Trombone

      January 18, 2018 at 10:51 am

      What’s wrong with profit? FOR DRIVERS? Why does every fan go “tut tut” as soon as drivers are making money instead of freakn Multi-Billionaire corporations making all the money and giving none to drivers? How can extreme-rich corporations bleat “amateur is so MORAL, and professional is poison!”. Fans always go for professional series, the viewer numbers, track ticket sales, webpages and mag pages, and particularly the sponsors prove that for a fact. Weird fans, who PAY for pro sports but SAY they want to watch amateurs.

      Truth – OEMs always evaluate ways of profit, and if they can use fan-psychology to convince drivers to drive for free, they will! Until someone like Audi says “we’re here to win” and chucks the tiny cost-reduction of driver salaries and pays up.

      You want moralized amateur racing? Watch LeMons! Their structure is exactly what all these fans of amateurism want. Given the quality of the M8GTE with its front splitter vibrating the car apart in less than 20 mins so they lost all their testing time at the roar, perhaps Jens should be take the M8 to LeMons?

      • jason

        January 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

        We at talking about GTD here. Not the whole series. Other comments hinted at looking at a way to help decrease sneaky silvers. I do tend to agree. Just for 2018 though, I still recommend Laguna Seca be dropped. But decreasing miles laid on the track and travel expenses is just one thing.

        • Old Trombone

          January 18, 2018 at 11:12 am

          Thanks for taking away the West Coast’s only professional endurance race.

          • Matt

            January 18, 2018 at 4:48 pm

            The west coast should have a race… but it’d also be helpful if fans actually showed up for the race. Laguna Seca has been empty for IMSA races for whatever reason.

    • Matt

      January 18, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Limiting the schedule would only further hurt the series. 11 races is not that many for a pro series. IMSA used to have way more. The problem is the costs to run the cars due to manufacturers pouring money into the teams. Can’t the series take another route and limit the number of guys allowed to be on a team? Manufacturer personnel should not be allowed to be seen with GTD teams at the track.

    • Andy Flinn

      January 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      “That’s for sure not the BMW approach. We’ve really had very loyal customers to us and we’ve sold cars that are running really quite well in all championships.

      — Jens Marquardt

      BMW has just ONE customer (Turner Motorsport) in GTD.

      That’s a pretty weak IMSA “customer car” operation. (Although, it is better than what Detroit has to offer.)

      Acura, one of the competing GTD manufacturers he cites, already has TWO teams. And Acura has only been involved in IMSA GTD for one year. Furthermore, they don’t have near the IMSA endurance heritage enjoyed by BMW.

      The first year of the IMSA Tudor series in 2014 we were told by fans and manufacturers that if only IMSA adopted full-GT3 specs for GTD, the floodgates would open and the series would suddenly be so awash in domestic and European entries, IMSA would need to cap the entry lists. That’s all people could say about GTD. Now, the very same self-interested people are climbing all over IMSA because the GTD entries are down.

      • StueyB83

        January 18, 2018 at 11:43 pm

        Marquardt is alluding that although it looks at face value like a “customer” team – behind the scenes with the back-of-house support it is very much a factory effort.

        A “customer” team may have bought the cars, and race them under their banner – but the manufacturer provides a lot of pro-bono services that a genuine customer team normally has to pay for, such as factory drivers, engineers, crew training and parts updates.

        Turner for instance – pays for that level of support.

        GT3 needs some form of staffing cap that is able to be present each weekend for each car – and measures to ensure that proxy engineering (back to base – guys sitting in front of PC’s in another part of the world) can’t be done.

        With BoP affecting how far the materiel cost of cars could go as there is no in-season arms race – the next logical thing is capping staffing and human operational costs.

      • Georg

        January 19, 2018 at 5:08 am

        Well, there are very few brands that have MANY cars in GTD. Turner used to run two cars in 2016 – both funded by real Ams. BOTH Ams pulled out after that season (Curtis came back for a few races, Marsal not at all), presumably after being tired of competing against all the fake Silvers or because it was too expensive – both points Marquardt is addressing here.

        Also, he is representing an international brand and is speaking about GT3 in general, world-wide, not just IMSA.

        IMSA had all the chances of making GTD similarly popular as Blancpain is in Europe, with full-GT3 spec cars, but they have shot themselves in the leg with poor BoP management, allowing factory teams in a Pro-Am category, fake Silvers, manufacturer fees (not many are willing to pay it just to have a customer run 1-2 cars, because it kills all profit and more) and generally not controlling costs. IMSA deserves to have a weak GTD field, no question about it.

  2. Dan

    January 18, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I’m glad someone is finally saying what plenty of people in and out of the paddock have been warning. In SRO the pro class is 70% of the grid but only the works teams of which their are legion ever win, everyone else is just there. Pro Am teams are dropping like flies and AM class cars are virtually extinct.
    In Imsa GTD has become a class for manufacturers using sneaky silvers like 3GT in car 15 and Land or using real AMs to make what is obviously a factory backed effort look less suspicious like Wright and Magnus. If the manufacturers weren’t cutting checks IMSA would have a 4 to 5 car GTD.

    Having factory supported teams in the IGTC which was designed for this or for one off raves like the N24 are fine but they have no business in national championships.

    The questiobs now arr will IMSA do anything and have the SRO acted to late?

    • Old Trombone

      January 18, 2018 at 11:11 am

      Right here on Sportscar365 you can go over to the D24 entry list, where you will find 20 Prototypes and 9 GTLM cars, and 21 GTD cars, making an entry of 50. Previous 2 years have seen 54, but with less Prototypes. I’m seeing improvement, not rot.

      Now let’s think about the roar headline. Was it “Real Estate Heir makes 3rd entry” or was it “Alonso is here, Alonso is here?”

      If paddock folks are complaining about costs, and they want “cost controls on drivers” it’s because they want a closed shop, where those inside can control employment and wages union-style. The 2016 election, where most of the IMSA paddock made it clear they wanted the anti-union candidate, shows that IMSA paddock types might want something for themselves that they don’t want the rest of America to have…

      Is the Daytona 24 a Capitalist Enterprise, or a unionized closed shop? If it’s Capitalist, therefore professional teams will compete to win and improve the breed. If it’s a unionized closed shop, it will be a parade of the correct people at the front, and the correct people in the correct places behind them.

    • Andy Flinn

      January 18, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      Dan, Lexus has only been racing in GTD for ONE YEAR. Last year, they didn’t win a single race.

      This was all explained last year by IMSA. There was nothing “sneaky” about it.

      Apparently, some fans chose not to listen.

      • Dan

        January 18, 2018 at 7:58 pm

        As per usual Andy you choose to selectively listen to what others say. Lexus failed becuase of the drivers being unable to drive consistently and not crash. Lexus gave them plenty of money and support and as expected PG wasted it hiring guys that didn’t get along with each other and even worse with their competitors.

        As for my sneaky sliver comment it referred specifically to car 15 lineup for THIS YEAR which features two clearly professional drivers which includes Kyle Marcelli, the very definition of sneaky silver. This is beyond the 1 year term they were allowed and still weren’t. It also refers to Land who are running a car for the full season clearly at Audi’s request owing to the abysmal presence they had last year with just stevenson being present.

        I know all this will go over your head and you’ll ignore it like you always do but maybe someone else will get it.

        • Andy Flinn

          January 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm

          Dan, you still want to talk about the 2017 drivers

          Obviously those drivers have been cleared to race for PG in 2018.

          So what’s “sneaky” about it?

          Just because you don’t like the driver rankings doesn’t mean PG is “sneaky.”

          I hope that doesn’t go over YOUR head.

  3. Paul

    January 18, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Agreed. IMSA needs to find a way to keep the cost down. Prices hiked when they merged, and gentleman racers clearly didn’t find their hobby worth the cost. They either had to merge with other teams to save money or folded altogether. Look at all the US customer teams they’ve lost in the past few years— to world challenge or to bankruptcy. Now that world challenge is trying to be IMSA with sprint x, they’ll fall down that same path. Nothing against factory teams, but the sport needs gentleman racers to survive.

  4. JD

    January 18, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Teams getting incentives from manufacturers doesn’t feel that new, even for customer teams. It’s beneficial for manufacturers selling race cars to have the teams running their cars running well. The problem still comes down to driver ratings for me. Pro silvers are what enables manufacturers to put together shadow factory teams, if you will, in GTD. If everyone was rated correctly, there would be less opportunity to abuse the system. Pumpelly, Legge, Nielsen, I’m fans of these drivers, but really they have no business being silvers. If you fix that, you fix the Pro/Am problem.

    • Andrew

      January 18, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Nielsen is a silver driver all day, she is truly an AM and shouldn’t be punished for being good. I don’t think there are any other true AMs anyone is pushing to be Silvers. Pumpelly and Legge yes, Silver is prob too low but are they really Gold drivers either?

      • Georg

        January 18, 2018 at 11:14 am

        Yes, Pumpelly and Legge really are Gold drivers. They have made their living racing, there is no way these two are genuine Silvers. Agree with your comment on Nielsen – she is a perfect example of a good amateur and should not be bumped to Gold even if she won a couple more championships.

        • JD

          January 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm

          If Christina’s an amateur driver, I don’t know how we can say anyone is a professional. She’s pursuing racing as her career. That makes her a pro as far as I’m concerned.

          • Georg

            January 18, 2018 at 4:41 pm

            JD, I do not understand what is unclear here. Drivers who earn money driving race cars are professionals. Drivers who pay to drive are amateurs. It should be that simple. Christina is paying 6 or 7 figures every year to be in the best championship, car, with the best co-driver, whatever. Her dad is funding it. The fact that she does it well, systematically and has had great success makes her a very very good amateur driver. It does not, in any way, make her a professional. I don’t even start with laptimes here.

        • Matt

          January 18, 2018 at 5:05 pm

          Just because Christina may not be considered good enough to be paid, does not mean she’s an AM. She spends her life racing and promoting the sport. What else does she do for a living? Her family is rich and can help her continue racing, but racing is her professional career. However, I still believe someone of her skill level should be rated Silver. I also believe someone of Legge should be rated a Silver, but Pumpelly is easily a Gold.

      • Andy Flinn

        January 18, 2018 at 7:12 pm

        Andrew, I like Nielsen. However, how many championships does someone have to win (two with Corsa/Ferrari and almost a third with TRG/Aston Martin) before someone is no longer an “Am”?

        • Georg

          January 19, 2018 at 5:11 am

          Andy, an Am can win a 100 Pro-Am championships if he or she is the best Am. Repeating myself here, but she pays huge amounts to race and is clearly a lot slower than professional drivers. Hats off to her for doing a good job, making the right choices in teams and co-drivers and winning races and titles. She is nowhere near a professional even if she wins again.

          • Davy

            January 19, 2018 at 12:36 pm

            If Alonso came to IMSA and funded a team out of his own pocket would he be an AM as well?

          • Georg

            January 19, 2018 at 2:52 pm

            Davy (below), you are obviously not serious but I’ll answer anyway.

            Alonso has earned quite a few millions and won a couple of world titles on top of other pro championships.

            You are comparing that to a driver who has never been paid one cent, has always paid to get rides and has won a couple of Pro-Am titles as a good Am but well below the performance level of the professionals in the same category.

            So, no Alonso would not be an Am if he one day did that.

          • Matt

            January 20, 2018 at 12:24 am

            Christina is a pro. Racing is her professional career. Just because there’s no money in the sport for her to get paid doesn’t mean she’s an AM. By your definition, Lance Stroll is also a Silver AM driver. His dad also pays for his racing career. That does not mean he’s an AM. By your definition, someone such as John Paul Jr. would have also been an AM. We all know the ratings system is a bunch of BS and does not accurating reflect driver skill. Please stop making excuses for it. It needs to be fixed or it will continue to be detrimental to the sport. Graham Rahal is even rated Gold!! He almost won the Indycar championship and racing has been his career his whole life.

          • Georg

            January 21, 2018 at 2:46 am

            Oh dear. OK Matt, first I do not make excuses for the rating system. I despise it.

            Christina is in no way or form a professional driver. She is a very good Am in an Am category. Pays for her rides and is not even close to the performance level of professional drivers – good or bad. The very definition of a good amateur.

            What other professional career? The kid graduated from school a few months ago. I’ll sink to your level of argumentation (Stroll) and ask are all 10-year-old karting drivers then professionals because they do not have real jobs?

            As to Rahal. Yeah, maybe he should be Platinum but both Gold and Platinum are professionals so what difference does it make which one you are? The basic rule says that F1 role (see Stroll) or position as a factory driver makes you Platinum. Other pros are Gold, even if they are better than you.

    • Dan

      January 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Sneaky silvers are one thing but that still leaves the issue of factory involvement in pro am categories, their wouldn’t be a close as large a market for silvers without the factory demand for them in series like IMSA. Look Christinia Porsche gave her own title and then placed her into a clearly factory backed Wright motorsports. She is a real AM but is being as a cover so Porsche has a full season car on the grid. The same goes for Magnus, the ran a works car for Audi in PWC and at the laguna 8 hours and won that. The Audi connection is clear. And Land wouldn’t even be over here if Audi didn’t want more cars in IMSA, their ADAC, VLN, and N24 commitment have them stretched as it is.

  5. Mike D

    January 18, 2018 at 9:45 am

    The issue with IMSA that seems to be under-addressed is: the manufacturer fee.
    By requiring the manufacturer participation fee, you are requiring factory involvement. But on the back end of it, you’re also saying there can’t be manufacturer-backed entries in GTD. The two requirements are counter to each other.
    It’s easier for the GTLM manufacturers because they can pay one fee and get a two-for-one on participation. But Acura, Lexus, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG & Audi get less bang for that buck, so they’re going to do everything to make it count.

    • Matt

      January 18, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      You’re exactly right with that. For an AM class such as GTD, there’s no way a fee should be required.

      • Andy Flinn

        January 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        Matt, the manufacturers who are serious about building GTD customer cars (and have potential orders lined up) like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes and even BMW, don’t have any trouble paying the IMSA manufacturer fee.

        • Dan

          January 18, 2018 at 8:02 pm

          Porshce, BMW, Ferrari and Mercedes all have works (Porsche GT Team IMSA, BMW team RLL) or works blessed entries (Risi and Riley Team-AMG). The only who doesnt is lamborghini and they only have one full season car run by a team that has been caught cheating in past, hardly a large customer base especially when compared to the cars run in Europe.

          • Andy Flinn

            January 19, 2018 at 4:38 pm

            Dan, your point (whatever it is) is moot.

            Porsche, BMW, Audi, Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, Acura, and Lexus all currently race in IMSA GTD because they all have GTD customers and they all paid the IMSA manufacturer fee.

            McLaren? No and no.

            Attacking Paul Miller Racing only proves how desperate you are.

        • Matt

          January 20, 2018 at 12:36 am

          That’s the whole problem, Andy. GTD isn’t supposed to be about the manufacturers. It’ll be IMSA’s own downfall when the class is decimated. They keep asking for manufacturer participation fees but expect manufacturers not to dump money into the teams that they had to pay a fee for. GTD is supposed to be for the AM’s. Manufacturer backing should not be required for AM’s to join the class. It shouldn’t matter what car the AM wants to race, as long as it meets the GT3 regs.

    • Andy Flinn

      January 18, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Mike D, according to IMSA, supposedly the IMSA manufacturer fee paid by GM (for Team Corvette/Pratt & Miller) would allow Callaway to race their GT3 Corvette in GTD.

      So I don’t see how the IMSA manufacturer fee and privateer teams in GTD are counter to each other.

      The IMSA manufacturer fee is in place to prevent manufacturers – like McLaren (who clearly have no interest in building cars for GTD customers) – from trying to poach a victory at a one-off race like Daytona or Sebring.

      • Dan

        January 18, 2018 at 8:08 pm

        IMSA had no problems with running without the fees when the series first started and other series allow people to show up without paying extra fees on top that. Hell IMSA is now actively trying to draw European teams in both P and GTD over here for the “36 hours of Florida” by dangling a le mans invite in front of them and reducing entry fees. Preventing one offs maybe be the excuse you and Atherton try to use but in reality its just trying to find a way to squeeze more money out of somebody.

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      January 23, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      Totally agree with Mike D-how is a company that pours money into developing a car and paying an entry fee supposed to completely distance themselves from their teams? It doesn’t make sense but I feel like this has always existing in some form or another in racing. I don’t know the solution to the problem as there will always be companies willing to spend the little extra bit to get a edge and win.

  6. Pierre

    January 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

    There’s no way to save gt3 as of now. It’s already gone past the point of no return. Gt3 will eventually die because of this.

    • jason

      January 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Ok this I disagree with 100%. Silly comment.

    • Matt

      January 20, 2018 at 12:39 am

      Nah it’ll be fine as long as series take steps fo limit manufacturer backing.

  7. Walter

    January 18, 2018 at 10:10 am

    What a surprise. Rampant manufacturer spending driving the price to play out of the reach of non-manufacturer supported racers who then stop racing which reduces the field size. Then the manufacturers leave the field of play due to marketing concerns. The field is then decimated and the class dies for lack of interest. So many different types of racing have seen the cycle repeated…

    • Rainbow52

      January 18, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Wonderful synthesis! it already happened too many times…

  8. Justin Porter

    January 18, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I believe Marquadt is being particularly disingenuous.

    He singles out the Lexus and Acura squads, however Acura thoroughly abides by their agreement with IMSA and Shank had to go get funding which is why Acura is down to one full time NSX.

    Lexus and 3GT remain joined at the the hip, but that’s more down to Lexus being in a situation where they haven’t sold customer car one outside of Japan’s GT300, primarily due to the Lexus remaining fairly unproven on the global stage.

    So where does that leave us in IMSA? Well, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and BMW themselves which have all operated in a similar fashion, channeling factory drivers, setup data, development parts, and so forth to preferred teams in a manner that has suited them all going back much further than the existence of GT3.

    “It’s unsustainable” is not Marquadt’s concern. “We aren’t selling cars in America because we can’t offer the support VAG can offer” is Marquadt’s concern.

    As to the numbers being down… I’d look more squarely at GTD’s terrible share of the broadcasts and promotional material rather than at the cost to race. If the attention justified the cost, CORE would have stayed in GTD rather than buying an Oreca.

    • jason

      January 18, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Justin said “I’d look more squarely at GTD’s terrible share of the broadcasts and promotional material rather than at the cost to race”. Interesting comment. Can you elaborate?

      • Old Trombone

        January 18, 2018 at 11:21 am

        I agree with Jason, I think GTD gets a fair coverage.

      • Justin Porter

        January 18, 2018 at 11:28 am

        I’ll gladly elaborate.

        IMSA places their broadcast focus on Prototypes first, GTLM second, and then has (until this coming year) divided the remaining scraps between GTD lead racing, GTD screw-ups, and LMPC screw-ups.

        Generally, the only time you’ll see GTD’s on screen is if there is a fight for the lead of the class OR if the GTD’s are creating a mess on track. Otherwise the camera will remain pointed at Prototypes or GTLM’s (typically Corvette or Ford).

        A lack of air time means a lack of visibility. A lack of visibility is a blow to the ego of the wealthy Am footing the bill. They don’t want to tool around in anonymity as a sideshow. They want to be part of the show.

        For all of their idiosyncrasies, that’s the biggest thing that PWC offers: The Am’s get to be The Show.

        If Am’s feel that they are a valuable part of the show, getting plenty of visibility for their dollar, then they can justify the cost even if they aren’t at the front.

        The problem isn’t that the product costs too much, it’s that the product doesn’t justify the cost.

        • jason

          January 18, 2018 at 12:13 pm

          Are you talking about FOX Sports or IMSA TV? Confession by they way, I’m a GT fan first and foremost. Been that way since the 1990’s. So with John, Jeremy, Shea, and Owen in 2017, I think they gave Prototype and GTLM more or less equal time and GTD slightly below that. LMPC virtually nothing as expected. It must be said that during the Petit Le Mans once the Penske car arrived, the prototype coverage did increase. GT’s got pushed back some. Justin is right in that I do fear GTs (both LM and D) to get less overall air time in 2018. Good thing that we still got the VIR and Lime Rock rounds.

        • NaBUru38

          January 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm

          How can amateurs not be a sideshow?

          I’d love to be an amateur racer, of course. But fans aren’t interested in them, they want to watch professional drivers.

          Amateurs can run in Conti, SCCA, NASA, 24H Series, whatever. IMSA is a professional championship, the amateurs are only grid fillers.

          • Andy Flinn

            January 18, 2018 at 7:28 pm

            NaBUru38, this series wouldn’t exist without “amateurs.” They are much more than just “grid filler.”

        • gtgianlu

          January 18, 2018 at 4:40 pm

          May be the reason is in the Usa there isn’t something like the Blancpain Endurance. I reckon an Am driver is more at his ease doing a full 1H/50min stint in an all Gt3 enviroment than a sprint race(PWC) or looking every moment at his mirrors (Imsa Gtd).And there are a lot of alternatives as single makes cups or challenges and the ever raising Gt4 now.

  9. Georg

    January 18, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Perhaps he decided GT3 is not the right platform for factory involvement after realizing his M6 is not a very good car and just a few are sold?

    Last year they ran 6 works cars at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. This year they have reduced it to 2. So, now it’s the right moment to criticize factory involvement of others?

    I don’t disagree with him, by the way. Just guessing there’s other stuff behind the comments.

    • Matt

      January 18, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Yeah the giant box BMW’s the market division keeps requiring them to race are the issue. They haven’t had a chance since the Z4.

    • Barber

      January 18, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      Wasn’t there 6 works cars this year too? Two from Rowe, two from Schubert and two from Schnitzer.

      • Georg

        January 19, 2018 at 5:14 am

        Barber, as I wrote above, BMW ran 6 works cars LAST year (2017). Exactly the 6 cars / teams you are listing. But they have reduced it to just the two Rowe cars for THIS year (2018) according to their press comm few weeks ago. Did you skip new year? 😀

  10. Rusty Trombone

    January 18, 2018 at 11:45 am

    I agree with a couple comments regarding the sneaky silver program. My personal opinion is to have a P2 class for purely professional drivers with OEM involvement. Then a P3 class where we stick all of the AM drivers, even those sneaky guys that might make a living driving but are also funding teams like the Turners, Adlers, O’Neill’s, etc. Then you have one full throttle GTLM full OEM support with pro drivers like you have right now. Just this simpleton’s idea and I have no clue if this solves anything nor do I care.

    • jason

      January 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      One thought for the future is if the ACO/WEC goes with GT looking prototypes for LMP1, then GTE might become obsolete. GTLM and GTD could turn into GT3 pro and GT3 Am perhaps. With stricter rules on what a silver driver is by then.

    • Old Trombone

      January 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      If you don’t care, why do you bother writing here? Just to get an insult over to me? Congratulations.

  11. JvD

    January 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    I part agree with Jens. Though there are more reasons why the GT3-racing gets less
    – Costs, a GT3 car nowadays costs half a million euro. 6 years ago this was kinda half the price. And I don’t think the price a km did became lower.
    – Car complexity, the GT3s getting more and more advanced, which also makes it more complex for a simple team to run.
    – GT4 (TCR), although the previous two points makes GT4 more attractive as well, the real reason why GT4 becomes more attractive, is because the cars got assists. First the GT4 cars had for example an H-Pattern gearbox, no abs and no tc. Now they also have paddle shifters, race abs and race tc. They became a bit expensiver, but more easier to race for the gentlemen racer.

    About the drivers system, i think there should come a new driver category system.
    Diamond = 5 points
    Platinum = 4 points
    Gold = 3 points
    Silver = 2 points
    Bronze = 1 point

    3 driver cars:
    Pro = 15-10 points
    Pro-Am = 9-5 points
    Am = 4-1 points

    2 driver cars:
    Pro = 10-8 points
    Pro-Am = 7-4 points
    Am = 3-1 points

    I also don’t understand why it is not possible to race with older GT3 cars, this should be improved. Why is there no Z4, old R8, Gallardo on the grid (not talking just about IMSA, but all the main GT3 championships)

    • Haskellb

      January 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Because the “old” GT3 cars aren’t as quick as the new ones.

      • Matt

        January 18, 2018 at 5:19 pm

        But BoP should allow them to be sped up. Isn’t that the whole point of a BoP class?

        • Haskellb

          January 18, 2018 at 8:19 pm

          Do you think Ferrari is going to advocate for the new 488 or the old 458?

        • StueyB83

          January 18, 2018 at 11:52 pm

          Two issues with this.

          1. Manufacturers want to sell cars – so the new car needs to show tangible improvement over the old and keep the money coming in.

          2. Upping the speed only goes so far. BoP will do a lap time – but the latest GT3 cars will be at their peak operating window more consistently over the older ones.

          BoP will put a cap on how fast you car will go – but not be able cover how consistent it will be – hence why Nissan has a new GT-R to the latest regs with many changes under the skin.

          • Matt

            January 20, 2018 at 12:45 am

            Ok, fair explanation. It doesn’t help Aston has 0 interest in updating their GT3, either. I love the car and it’s screaming V12, but I was baffled on why people were still paying TRG to compete with that outdated thing last year.

    • Old Trombone

      January 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Fantastic idea about a points system. Brilliant.

    • Matt

      January 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      I don’t understand how a paddle shift, TC and ABS makes them for attractive. I understand having ABS, but all GT shouldn’t be allowed to have TC. Fans want to see the cars slide and get loose under throttle inputs. GT3 cars now have too much downforce and too little power for any excitement. And as a true racing fan, how could you not want to race with/watch racing with an H pattern?? The best indicator of driving skill is the ability to manage shifting, braking, throttle, and steering all at once. Not to mention it’s much more fun.

      • Dan

        January 18, 2018 at 6:52 pm

        What you mentioned is just a recipe for crashes. Few guys paying hundreds of thousands of dollars want to drive something that is basically actively trying to crash every time you brake or accelerate. I think most people go to theses races to watch racing not drifting. Making cars hard for mom professional drivers to drive fast and safely will turn people away.

        • Matt

          January 20, 2018 at 12:57 am

          It’s still a “pro” series. AM’s at this level should know how to control a powerful car. If I had the money, I’d prefer a car of this level to be difficult to drive… it’d be much more rewarding. Plenty of AM’s used to race in IMSA GTO/GTP and Trans Am with much more power, no TC, and much less downforce. Plenty of AM’s still race in Trans Am and build their own insane time attack cars.

    • Georg

      January 19, 2018 at 5:24 am

      Cute idea but brings no improvement.

      Pro-Am is already clearly defined. Best possible pair is Platinum-Silver which is exactly your 7 points. With 3 drivers it is Platinum-Silver-Silver which is exactly your 9 points.

      Fake Ams remain a major problem. A guy who should be 4 points is 2 points.

      Also, why add a Diamond as there already is one too many Pro categories. A Pro is a Pro, no need to make a difference between Platinums and Golds, ESPECIALLY when they mix them all up.

      Even worse, there are full-time factory drivers with Silver rating, mediocre professionals as Platinum etc so the entire system, with all its potential, is just very poorly managed.

    • Georg

      January 19, 2018 at 5:27 am

      You have a good point asking about the older models. If GT3 was handled as originally intended, BoP would level the field and older cars could compete with newer ones. I assume the manufacturers do not allow older cars beat their news ones (understandable) and have lobbied that this is not possible. Also, the GT3 cars are several seconds per lap faster than they were in the beginning – I’d estimate on a track like Spa it’s somewhere around 7-8 seconds per lap. This kind of development obviously costs a lot of money. This is what has made GT3 a lot more expensive than it used to be.

  12. Haskellb

    January 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I agree GTD needs to cut costs big time. But the other side of argument could be if they don’t mind slitting the PWC’s throat they could open it up to factory teams. But then you might loose GTLM cars doing that. On the third hand if pigs start flying and ACO/FIA finally harmonize GTE and GT3 that could open up some interesting possibilities.

  13. Clusterf***

    January 18, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I agree. It was sad to see Stevenson Motorsports go last year. WTR had to forgo their GTD program because of costs. And Turner’s passion to continue to show up in GTD (and not go to PWC) shows by being able to bring deals together last minute, but it looks like it’s harder and harder to commit to the cost.

    Lexus and Acura’s efforts in GTD also undermine GTLM. Ironically, GTLM does consist of essentially customer teams with factory backing (e.g. BMW Team RLL, Chip Ganassi-Ford), so I find it weird Lexus and Acura were able to do GTD.

    • jason

      January 18, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Funny thing is that Lexus did pretty bad in 2017 compared to the Turner BMW. Acura did ok but had a lot of bad races. I think the Shank Acura as it is could be in GTLM. Put Michelin tires on the car, adjust BoP, then there be too much more before you reach the GTLM lap times.

      • Haskellb

        January 22, 2018 at 2:26 pm

        GTLM has way more aero and fewer driver aides.

    • Haskellb

      January 18, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      BMW, Chevy, Ford, and Porsche are paying their respective teams to run their cars. Just like Joest used to work for Audi and now runs the Mazda works team. In GTLM, the only customer team is to Ferrari’s shame Risi Competizione who does get some support and access to factory drives, but not anywhere near the level of a proper works team. Unlike RLL, Pratt & Miller, Ganassi, and CORE who were given their cars Risi has to buy them.

      • Clusterf***

        January 18, 2018 at 5:33 pm

        Weren’t Shank and 3GT practically given their cars?

        • Andy Flinn

          January 18, 2018 at 7:39 pm

          Clusterf***, Shank and Gentilozzi were given cars that NEVER RACED IN IMSA. They were also given a deadline (one year) to develop these brand new cars and have them ready for customers this year.

          • Dan

            January 18, 2018 at 8:12 pm

            Yeah and Shank was the only one to succeed while Lexus floundered at the hands of its terrible driver. Meanwhile in Europe Emil Frey Racing and Farnbacher Racing with LM Corse in Japan were winning races in the exact same car. The car has been developed plenty and doesnt need the “lot of people from Lexus and TRD” in the words of Kyle Marcelli to help them, they need customer support not factory support.

        • Haskellb

          January 18, 2018 at 8:25 pm

          They were given the cars at the end of the season. Shank running the Acura is good advertising to sell half million dollar NSX GT3’s. 3GT running the Lexus means that someone is racing RC F GT3 since Toyota hasn’t sold any.

    • Andy Flinn

      January 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      Clusterf***, there’s NOTHING “customer” about BMW Team RLL or CGR-Ford. Do you honestly think Bobby or Chip are fielding these teams with ANY of their own money?

      • Dan

        January 18, 2018 at 8:16 pm

        No they aren’t but the manufacturers hired them to run the cars, most of the people on those teams you mentioned aren’t Ford or BMW employees they work for their respective teams. If the teams were built from scratch to run these cars and didnt pull double duty in Indycar and NASCAR as the afore mentioned crew often do then it would be a different story. Porsche GT Team IMSA was built from the ground up and are directly employed by Porsche. They are works teams but at different levels in terms of how they a run and were created.

        • Andy Flinn

          January 19, 2018 at 4:47 pm

          “No they aren’t but the manufacturers hired them to run the cars, most of the people on those teams you mentioned aren’t Ford or BMW employees they work for their respective teams.”

          Dan, you know what a customer is, don’t you?

          Customers PAY money.

          If my local supermarket hired (paid) me to shop or work there, would I be a customer?

          Uh, no!

          Chip and Bobby are not “customers.”

    • Georg

      January 19, 2018 at 5:18 am

      True. It is a lot easier for a manufacturer to pay 5-6 Million for 2 cars in GTD than 30, 40, 50 Million to run them in GTLM.

      IMSA f”ked up to let this happen.

      • Andy Flinn

        January 19, 2018 at 4:56 pm

        Georg, how is GTD “F’d” up by the factories?

        Neither Acura nor Lexus won the championship last year, even with all of their pro drivers. In fact, even with Scott Pruett and Indy car drivers Lexus didn’t win a single GTD race.

        The real reason GTD is struggling has two components. One is the schedule, which essentially combined all of the popular ALMS and Grand-Am endurance races. No matter how you cut it, that was always going to be expensive. Two is the price and sophistication levels of current GT (customer GT3) cars that must now be bought and can no longer be built.

        • Georg

          January 22, 2018 at 6:04 am

          Andy, to be accurate, I meant IMSA messed up letting factory teams in a Pro-Am category. I did not say factories destroyed GTD.

          I agree mostly with your “real” reason why GTD struggles but would like to claim that fake Silvers are a big problem as well, possibly the biggest.

          True, it starts to be difficult to find Ams who can and will pay 2-3M for a season. But, it’s even more difficult to find them if they will be compared to and made look ridiculous by other Ams who in fact are professional drivers and thereby have no realistic chance to ever stand on the podium.

          There are perhaps a couple of privateer teams that can fund a fully professional season line-up but letting factories in makes this even worse and sends a completely wrong signal to the world of gentleman drivers. And pushes away teams that rely on them.

          This situation does not change whether a season costs 1 or 2 or 3 Millions.

  14. daedalus

    January 18, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    If they put a cost cap on GT3 like they do with GT4/P2/P3 and set it at $400k twice that of GT4 but well below the $600k that some are priced at it would level the playing field.

    I think there needs to be simple rule regarding pro drivers. “If you’r paid you’r pro” that will insure these paid sneaky silvers would be classed as gold. The other issue is that if some manufactures like Acura and Lexus can’t find a privater with enough funds then they have no choice but to provide factory support for them to continue.

    I agree that having a factory fee to race in a customer class is stupid and in part explains why there are no Mclarens, Astons or Bentleys and the like in GTD but are over in PWC.

    • Matt

      January 18, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      I was under the impression GT3 cars did have a cost cap. That’s why it has survived pretty long without escalating costs, but now manufacturers have found other ways to increase running costs.

      • Dan

        January 18, 2018 at 8:21 pm

        No, GT3 doesn’t, problem is that it isn’t just the cost the cars which is bad but the cost to run them and the amount of people and tech needed to operate at a competitive level. The amount of money it costs to hire the people necessary for your team to be anything other than a back marker is whats driving up costs alongside R&D of the cars. Combine cost of car with cost of crew and equipment, then add running costs on top and the class as it is isn’t sustainable for long. Its a cycle that keeps repeating.

        • StueyB83

          January 18, 2018 at 11:55 pm

          The cost cap was supposed to be the free market. Go too expensive and people will take their money elsewhere to another brand.

          BoP was supposed the all-levelling factor that didn’t make one car any better than another.

  15. Haskellb

    January 18, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    The problem is it is getting close to $3,000,000 per car to run a full season of GTD in IMSA and at that price you are at the entry level LPM2 budget. Combine that with the fact that some GT3 cars cost about half a mil and you can buy an LMP2 for $750K you now have a reason for all of those PC teams as well as one GTD team choosing LMP2 over GTD, because prototypes let you command more money from the pay to play drivers.

  16. sunset bend

    January 18, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    The sanction is money-hungry, they’ll figure it out when you stop spending, and not until then.

  17. Anthony

    January 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I truly don’t understand the GTD business model. I look at most of these cars and you don’t see any level of meaningful sponsorship because there isn’t any level of meaningful exposure. You might see a sponsor that is brought by the AM driver but the sponsor isn’t on the car because there is a sponsorship value.

    When you look at 3GT, you see two cars so I expect the budget is somewhere between $5 and $6 million. Where on earth could the money for that operation be coming from? They’ve got a pay driver in the 14 but I don’t see a pay driver in the 15. I can’t imagine that guy is paying anything close to half of that budget to drive for a team that underperformed big time last year. With these teams fighting for money and not that many people available to pay, You would think it’s a ride-buyers market. Given that the factory is supposed to be out of it now, I don’t get how 3GT is going racing. At all. I’m not a 3GT hater or anything like that. It’s just that they are the most obvious ones to me.

    It seems to me that the only people with anything to gain from this is the manufacturer, but I suppose that’s what GTLM is supposed to be for.

    GTD does get some TV exposure, but it’s not as much as in P. It did seem like the factory teams got an obligatory nod once a race but outside of that, you had to be up front at the end or the cause of a crash to get much pub.

    To me, as long as it costs that kind of scratch to go racing, car counts have to drop because there is no way to justify

    • Dan

      January 18, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      That’s because half the grid is made up of works or works supported teams. The AMs have been priced out. For real AMs there is little to any ROI, that’s why Core went to P. The lineup has little chance at non NAEC races but they’ll get much more exposure for the same money.

    • johnny rokker

      January 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      If you’re relying on TV time alone to determine ROI then you’re not doing a very good job of activation. If a company like Liqui Moly sponsors a car like say, the Turner M6, they should already have a number of promotional plans in place for the car, program and product. Magazine ads, advertainment stories / press releases, web promotions, plus on-site promotional signs, give aways, fan activation, etc. Basically whether they’re in GTD or GTLM, if they do it right they can still get huge value from the program.

  18. Georg

    January 18, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Your point system is a nice idea, but it brings nothing new to the table because Pro-Am is already clearly defined. For example, maximum driver pair in GTD is Platinum + Silver (in your chart that’d be 7 points) and 3rd driver must be Silver (9 points). Changing the current rules into numbers will not change a single thing although it might be more clear for the fans.

    The main problem would still be fake Silvers. 2-point drivers, if you wish. If a driver should be 4 points but is wrongly rated to 2 points, there we go again.

    Also, in the current system, a Pro should be a Pro. There should be no Platinum and Gold because both are simply professionals. It makes no sense. Therefore I don’t get your adding of Diamond.

    You are spot on asking why old models can’t be run anymore. If GT3 would follow its on main principle (build a car, we’ll level everyone with BoP), there should be no reason why a 3 or 5 year old car could not run competitively against today’s car. The manufacturers obviously do not want an older model to beat their new and have lobbied against it. The fact is that the GT3 cars are several seconds per lap faster today than they were a few years ago and that’s simply development. Something SRO wanted to avoid but in the end did nothing to prevent.

  19. Bopper

    January 18, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    The category is poised to collapse on itself in the next few years. But frankly that’s alright, GT4 is there to pick up the pieces. A natural reset on price and performance.

    Thing is, back in the Z4 days, BMW were second only to Audi at dumping works money into GT3 races. Ferrari (maybe Porsche and AMG in the SLS days, but not anymore) were really the only ones who could credibly make claims about wanting to limit factory involvement. Even the likes on Aston, McLaren and Nissan could only ever challenge for wins when they ran full factory lineups in works teams.

    Basically, he’s right, but I bet Jens wouldn’t say anything at all if as many people were buying the M6 as they did the Z4.

    • StueyB83

      January 18, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      Indeed. There has be $ome reason ARTA – a traditionally Honda loyal superGT team – has “opted” to field the only M6 in GT300 this year.

  20. Nick1

    January 20, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I’m not surprised that GT3 is becoming unsustainable due to the cost. Blaming a unsuccessful Lexus team is not the way to go, however. The problem with GT4 is that even its costs are escalating as well. The issue is the actual running cost of the cars for full seasons. What makes it worse for teams in the US is that both PWC and IMSA are now negligible in terms of costs.

    • Nick1

      January 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Actually, PWC is still cheaper to run than IMSA, but the costs are getting up there

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