The ACO will limit its new LMGT3 class in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series to only manufacturers competing in the global series, prohibiting outside brands from being represented at the 24 Hours of Le Mans or in ELMS.
The revelation, confirmed by ACO President Pierre Fillon, would put several proposed LMGT3 programs in jeopardy if the manufacturer is not allocated customer entries in the WEC next year.
“If the brand is involved in WEC [then it’s fine]. But imagine McLaren is not in WEC, they cannot be in ELMS [or at Le Mans],” Fillon told reporters at last weekend’s 8 Hours of Bahrain.
The FIA and ACO have yet to finalize which GT3 manufacturers will be granted entries in the globe-trotting championship, although based on the expected 37-car overall field, it appears likely that nine brands will be represented on the grid.
Neither Fillon nor FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille, however, would confirm the exact number other than saying it will remain at two cars per OEM as originally planned.
BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus and Porsche all appear set to receive entries through their involvement in the Hypercar class, with Aston Martin expected to be confirmed too, given its longstanding presence in the series and upcoming Hypercar plans.
It leaves Audi, Ford, McLaren and Mercedes-AMG, which have all assembled bids with customer teams, vying for the final two berths. All but Mercedes-AMG were present at a recent Goodyear tire test at Portimao in preparation for expected LMGT3 entries.
The two expected manufacturers that fail to receive WEC entries would therefore not be allowed to have cars in the ELMS or at Le Mans.
Fillon explained this is due to the category’s Balance of Performance system, alluding to the fact that the ACO and FIA would not want to introduce a new variable for the French endurance classic.
This ruling could potentially impact several teams’ plans to race at Le Mans or in the ELMS next year, should their manufacturer not receive a WEC entry.
It includes Inception Racing, which through driver Brendan Iribe, secured a LMGT3 auto-invite by winning IMSA’s Bob Akin Bronze Cup award and had already outlined plans to take its McLaren 720S GT3 Evo to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
An additional auto-invite is up for grabs in the 2023-24 Asian Le Mans Series’ GT class, which sees participation from Audi and Mercedes-AMG customer teams that could be put in a similar situation should one of those teams secure the invite but its manufacturer not be granted WEC entries.