With the GT Daytona class shifting to full FIA GT3-spec machinery in 2016, Porsche is evaluating its customer offerings for the future, while also pushing for an increased emphasis on privateers in GT Le Mans.
The evolution of the Pro-Am production-based category puts the German manufacturer in a predicament, with its Porsche 911 GT America, the only non-compliant GT3 car in the class today, now set to only be eligible through the end of next year.
As a result, Porsche is weighing its options for 2016, which according to Porsche Motorsport North America President Jens Walther, includes the possibility of a new 991-based GT3 car.
“We’re looking at several options at the moment for future products in Weissach,” Walther told Sportscar365. “The GT America was always meant to be a ‘Cup plus’ car for endurance racing on an entry level basis.
“GTD has developed more towards a ‘GT3-minus’ class, so to say. We have a confirmed product for 2015 with the GT America and all of us are working with IMSA to make sure that our customers are able to compete with the car next year.
“Then for 2016, we have to make a decision very early — the end of this year or early next year — what product we’re going to be offering for GTD, if at all, or what our strategy is going to be.
“A 991-based GT3 is an option at the moment but it’s too early to say whether it’s coming or not.”
Porsche has offered the FIA GT3-homologated 911 GT3 R, but production of the 997-based model ended this year with a final run of five cars.
Walther said a number of considerations would have to be made on whether or not to build and support a new 991-based GT3 car, including the future class structure from the ACO and FIA-sanctioned championships.
“It’s important for us to have products for all of the different categories,” he said. “This in fact was the reason we built a 911 GT America, which is exclusively built for GTD. That shows how important that category for us.
“If the category remains strong as it is at the moment and we have customers who are willing to continue in the class, I’m sure we will have an obligation to have a product to fill into that.”
While Porsche’s factory GTLM program has already been confirmed of returning to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year, Walther is pushing for additional privateer involvement in the class.
One concept recently presented to IMSA is the possible adoption of a Pro-Am component to GTLM, which would recognize privateers and gentlemen drivers in the predominately factory class.
“There is an increasing interest worldwide in GTLM cars,” Walther said. “A couple of customers from GT3 programs want to step up into a GTLM/GTE program.
“When the GTD budgets increase even more [in 2016], then the difference to a GTLM program is not that high anymore. The GTLM program, for many of our customers, builds the bridge to Le Mans.
“Many of them want to run in Le Mans with the same car and the same tire that they run in the North American program.”
A group of teams proposed a similar concept in 2012, for the addition of a GTE-Am class in the ALMS, which ultimately didn’t move forward due to the merger announcement.
“I think the Pro-Am category is the backbone of North American sports car racing,” Walther added. “We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if there is enough interest in the market to make this a case or whether it’s something which could maybe be re-considered in a year or two from now.”