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Porsche: GTE-Pro “Still Healthy” if Ford, BMW Exit

Porsche not concerned about GTE-Pro future in event of Ford, BMW dropout…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

The GTE-Pro class would still be in a healthy state in the event of two fewer manufacturers next season, according to Porsche, which has reaffirmed its commitment to the FIA World Endurance Championship.

It comes in the wake of both Ford and BMW potentially exiting WEC competition at the conclusion of the ‘Super Season’, which could leave the factory class with three manufacturers for the 2019-20 season.

While currently featuring ten cars with the recent addition of BMW for the Super Season, GTE-Pro had seen involvement from only Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin until Ford’s arrival in 2016 and averaging six to seven full-season entries.

With no new manufacturers on the immediate horizon, Pascal Zurlinden, Porsche’s director of GT factory motorsports, still believes in the strength of the class even if there’s a drop-off.

“At the moment I think we are at the peak of GTE in WEC, with the number of manufacturers,” Zurlinden told Sportscar365.

“But in the past, we were one or two manufacturers less and the GTE category was still healthy. So we don’t see any trends that it could go bad for the WEC.”

Both Ford and BMW have yet to confirm programs for next season, with the Blue Oval’s WEC involvement likely to end following this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While initially confirming a two-year global extension of the Ford GT program that was to run through the end of 2019, the American manufacturer adjusted its WEC commitment due to the composition of the Super Season, which includes two editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook told Sportscar365 last month that it hasn’t made a decision on whether the GTE-Pro/IMSA GTLM campaign would be extended.

He admitted it would go “hand in hand” with a possible move to DPi in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which could debut as early as next year.

A decision on BMW’s WEC future, meanwhile, may not come until Le Mans in June according to BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt, who confirmed that it is “reassessing” its involvement.

Despite the recent developments, Zurlinden said Porsche remains fully committed to the class.

“We’re sticking to it,” he said. “It’s a world championship and the world championship is always attractive for the manufacturers.”

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

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