Head of Porsche Motorsport Thomas Laudenbach has personally questioned the FIA and ACO’s plans for a ‘Premium GT3 Kit’ for its new GT class in 2024, asking if a specific aero package for the World Endurance Championship is necessary for already-premium cars.
Announced Friday during the French organizer’s annual press conference in Le Mans, GT3-based cars will compete with manufacturer-specific aero kits that will differentiate the cars from standard GT3 machinery.
FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille said the kit will be cost-capped to customers in the range of €50,000-100,000 ($53,000-106,000 USD).
“You’ve got to modify it in some way which costs money, but only just for a few cars, and that makes it difficult,” Laudenbach told Sportscar365.
“From a technical point of view, you will always find something.
“The question is: do we really need it? Does it make the sport more attractive? I don’t know.
“For this special event (24 Hours of Le Mans), they probably want to have something special with the cars. From my personal opinion, I don’t think you need it because I don’t think a spectator will realize.
“A Porsche is a Porsche. I don’t want to go too deep into this.”
Laudenbach said he “fully understands” the ACO’s perspective but would be happy to utilize the same specification GT3 car that Porsche’s customers race everywhere.
“GT3 is customer sport for us,” he said. “Just imagine you have one, two, three, four cars in a championship, and you do a development just on these cars. And the customer has to pay? It’s difficult.
“And do you really need it? If you don’t want a GT3 car, take a different car. That’s my opinion.
“Because what does the spectator really see? We see great racing with GT3 cars: GTD at Daytona this year.
“But I can understand that the promoter of the series wants to do something special, which is fine. I’m not blaming anybody.
“To me, the question is: is the format right? Is the event good? Do we have spectacular and exciting racing? That’s what we need.
“If you look at the worldwide platform of GT3 cars, this category has proven that it can provide everything if the rest is fine.
“The GT3 cars that I know, worldwide, are proper GT race cars. So I don’t see the point. We can do it, but why? Because I don’t think you need it to make something special out of your series.
“It is my personal opinion, I might be wrong. But why should we spend the money? I’m sure we’ll find a solution where everyone is happy.
“For me, the big point is that it’s great that we have this worldwide GT3 category with a lot of championships worldwide.
“That’s a great thing, and I think it’s great that these cars will come here.”
Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook, meanwhile, said they need more information from the FIA and ACO before making a final judgment, although Rushbook has supported the plan.
The Blue Oval will enter the GT3 arena in 2024 with a Multimatic-developed Mustang that will be made available to customers worldwide, in addition to a factory program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD Pro class.
“I think we need to see what it is,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365. “There’s no concerns with that. We need to see the details.”
Rushbrook said there’s been “dialogue” on the GT3 Premium concept but they haven’t seen details on it yet.
When asked by Sportscar365 if Ford would consider building the Premium Kit to make its car eligible for the WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rushbrook said “absolutely.”
Chevrolet, meanwhile, has opted to remain quiet on the matter, having declined comment about the Premium Kit.
“We’re awaiting more details and information on this plan,” a Corvette Racing spokesperson told Sportscar365.
Even if Chevrolet produces a Premium Kit for its new-for-2024 Corvette Z06 GT3.R, it will not be eligible to compete as a factory team in the new solo Pro-Am-enforced class.
It is set to end Corvette’s run at Le Mans as a factory operation at Le Mans dating back to 2000.
Ford’s Rushbrook, meanwhile, said it would be “fine” for them to not run the new Mustang GT3 as a works team at Le Mans.
“When we committed to doing a GT3 car a year ago, with internal approval, it was with that vision we could sell it around the world as a customer race car to compete in all of these great series,” he said.
“Where we’re allowed to race as a factory [in] IMSA GTD Pro, then we’ll be able to race it as a factory there. We’re good with that.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report