Following multiple manufacturers meetings over the last six months, in the wake of the GT Convergence fallout, the ACO and FIA are in the closing stages of finalizing the new-for-2016 GTE regulations.
Speaking to Sportscar365, ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil confirmed the latest set of regulations have been sent to manufacturers and is awaiting final approval by the FIA World Council, which is likely to come in December.
“I would say they are roughly set now,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365. “There are still some points to be discussed but the engine rules are similar to what we have now. There has been some discussions on turbocharged engines and how to manage the performance. There should be some updates on this.
“Regarding the chassis side, we’ve integrated some of the points that we discussed in the GT Convergence group, to have a management of cars that’s less based on waivers and more on the performance window.”
While GT Convergence talks broke down in May, following more than two years of meetings, GTE manufacturers have since worked to finalize a moderate update to its current regulations.
The GTE/GTLM classes are set to feature a slight increase in performance, although Beaumesnil said actual numbers haven’t yet been agreed on.
Instead, much of the changes are with chassis rules, particularly around the reduction of the number of waivers used in the homologation of a car.
“It doesn’t mean that your car is not eligible for next year,” Beaumesnil said. “It means the production car you will have in the future, there will be more freedom in the way to make the car.
“The exact condition that you bring the car to the performance window, we have to find. Except [we’re] having more strict rules with waivers to help the car reach the performance.”
Beaumesnil confirmed that all 2015-spec GTE cars will be grandfathered into the new regulations for at least one year, although cars built to the 2016 rules will not be eligible to compete next year.
Despite Chrysler’s recent withdrawal of its factory Viper program, there still still appears to be considerable interest from existing and new manufacturers.
AMR team principal John Gaw confirmed that the Aston Martin Vantage GTE will receive an aero update for 2016, with an all-new car, based on the replacement to the Vantage road car, set to debut two years later.
“For sure we’ll have an update to this car for 2016,” Gaw told Sportscar365. “We are likely to have a brand-new, bottom-up everything, based on a different model for 2018, because that’s when the new road car comes out.
“You can only homologate a new car once every three years, so we wouldn’t want to homologate one for 2016.”
Porsche, meanwhile, have yet to decide on whether it will run a brand-new car in 2016 or roll out another intermediate update for its 911 RSR, which debuted last year.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, who recently replaced Hartmut Kristen as Head of Porsche Motorsport, is pushing for the delay of the introduction of the new rules until 2017.
“Time is getting short,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “With 2016, we have to look at the U.S. This means that racing starts in January [with the Rolex 24]. Cars have to be prepared and shipped by December.”
A delay could have a significant impact on new programs, notably Ford, which is understood to be planning a return to Le Mans in 2016 with a to-be-announced GT40-style sports car to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its first overall win.
Jaguar is also believed to be in the process of finalizing a GTE program, although the timeframe for the British manufacturer’s potential entry is unclear.
“New manufacturers are coming to the meetings and are interested,” Beaumesnil said. “I would say they already were there before [during GT convergence] talks. This was not achieved.
“We took some opportunity to do some updates on the rules but in the end it’s not a major change.”