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Walliser: ‘Hypercars’ Not Rival to GTE

Porsche GT Motorsport boss Frank-Steffen Walliser believes ‘hypercar’ regs not rival to GTE…

Photo: Porsche

The FIA and ACO’s new ‘hypercar’ class will not be a rival to GTE, according to Head of Porsche GT Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, who admitted it could, however, detract from the level of factory involvement in the production-based class.

Porsche, along with other manufacturers, have been involved in technical working group meetings on developing the new platform, which will debut in the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

While currently featuring involvement from six automakers, all with factory programs either in IMSA and/or the WEC, Walliser believes GTE will remain healthy, despite at least three of those brands looking at the new, yet-to-be-named formula.

“I don’t think that it’s a rivalry to GTE,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “In the late ’90s when we had the GT1 category we had regular GT cars on the grid all the time.

“This is based on our high-volume cars and we would always offer a car like this.

“Hypercars are coming and going in the industry. They are there for one or two years. They disappear and in ten years later the next one will come.”

Walliser said the difference in costs between GTE and the proposed ‘hypercar’ regs, which call for €25-30 million ($30-35 million) budgets, would provide a large enough separation for manufacturers.

However, he admitted some of the exiting GTE manufacturers could be swayed away and shift its works programs to the top class.

Both Ford and Aston Martin are understood to be evaluating hypercar programs, which could see its existing factory efforts move to the top class.

“It depends on the manufacturers, what they think is feasible,” Walliser said. “And then finally on the cost side.

“Without a factory car, a GTE-Am car would never exist. So that has to be figured out. That’s number one.

“Second, we have seen a set of targets, a vision and an outlook on what it looks like, but not really technical regulations. At the end you need a rulebook.”

Porsche in Hypercar Talks

Walliser confirmed that Porsche has been in the technical working group meetings to help shape the regulations but gave no clear indication on whether the German manufacturer could actually mount a return to the top class in 2020-21.

Porsche withdrew from LMP1 at the end of last year amid fallout from VW’s ‘dieselgate’ scandal as well as increasing costs and lack of competition from hybrid entrants. 

“As we are in our yearly planning, we are always looking every movement in the world of motorsport in all different sectors,” Walliser said. 

“For sure, we are watching this here. But at the moment we have the strategy.

“We have a clear outlook. At a first, not have to push or change anything. But we will see how it develops. We are integrated in the discussions.”

However, as is the case with a number of other manufacturers, including Ford, a commitment could hinge on the platform also being adopted in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. 

“We know the environment, we know Le Mans, WEC and everything,” Walliser said. “We would like to see a strong commitment to racing in IMSA, [which] is very successful on the prototype side.

“I think [it’s] a good job there to bring in some of these elements in WEC is welcome. We hope the collaboration is friendly. This is what I think a majority of the manufacturers want.”

Walliser said there are currently ‘joint’ discussions within Porsche, with no determination what motorsports arm the program would fall under, should it commit to the new platform.

Former Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl will be heading up the manufacturer’s Formula E program in 2019, while former LMP1 VP Fritz Enzinger was recently appointed the new Head of Volkswagen Group Motorsport.

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

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. jason

    June 27, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Porsche 911 RSR based hypercar with the loud screaming sound we have now. That would be a cool idea.

  2. Tim

    June 27, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I personally think it would bring more private teams back to the class. I know we have AM in the WEC but a few years ago we had Fly Lizard, Paul Miller, ESM, AXR, Luxury Racing…few more Pro driver teams by private teams, GTE is full factory now it seems.

    • Mike S

      June 27, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Alex Job, Derrick Walker Falken. Yeah Risi will go next.
      It’s too expensive how can it not detract from GTE?? It’s early days though it just sounds like hypercars is just one happy group of manufacturers spitballing it at this point. Could get to point if things go one way where manufacturers pull out so nothing is settled until it’s settled.

  3. Old Trombone

    June 27, 2018 at 10:46 am

    ACO wants BIG budgets because more money can easily go ‘walkabout’ and wash amongst the involved parties. ACO/FIA is in it for the money, more money here, more money there, more money in rulemakers’ pockets, oh how did that get there? (Anyone say FIFA?) BE QUIET TROMBONE PHARTER…

    IMSA wants small budgets because then more competitors can participate. More PEOPLE involved, not necessarily money. IMSA is in it for the SPORT, the camaraderie, and a little marketing and promotion from some car-mad sponsors like WeatherTech and car-mad Honcho’s like Reuss.

    I’m liking IMSA’s approach.

    • Davide

      June 27, 2018 at 11:28 am

      FYI: Motorsport is always a matter of money. Motorsport is expensive.
      IMSA is doing a great job for the Endurance USA environment, they can’t have big returns in terms of money, so they NEED to have a lower budget.
      The key is always the sustainability. Big return = big budget. The problems comes when budget > returns.
      More, to have a good return, the WEC need to be technologicaly and innovative to attract the manufacturers.
      More, the European audience is sensible to real Motorsport and fast cars, not only to the show. So, the WEC need to be technologicaly and innovative. Also to attract the manufacturer.

      But the key is always the sustainability. The WEC and Le Mans are powerful than IMSA, more sponsor, bigger returns and then bigger budget

      • Old Trombone

        June 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

        “But the key is always sustainability” – uh huh! Now let’s look at the sustainability history of the WEC vs IMSA/ALMS over the years, shall we?

        WEC more powerful than IMSA? Nope.

        One OEM learned how to use defeat devices (y’know, cheating rules created by elected bodies right in the face of the public that elected those bodies) in the Le Mans scrutineering bay in 2006-12. GTE was given on a plate in 2016 and in 2018.

        IMSA gave the Lambo’s a 5-minutes Stop-n-Go in 2017 for sandbagging.

        IMSA looks way more powerful to me.

      • Old Trombone

        June 27, 2018 at 11:44 am

        Ford, Porsche, Toyota, Neveau, Fillon, Todt, all day to Atherton – “You take this budget like we tell you!”

        Atherton says – “Too much for my taste. I like it the way I LIKE IT. Thanks, but nope.”

        And you say IMSA is less powerful?

        • Davide

          June 28, 2018 at 5:17 am

          Probably you haven’t even read my comment, I’m talking about which is best. I like both WEC and IMSA. They are both great, but different.
          “Powerful” in terms of capacity to attract teams, manufacturer, fans, sponsor, etc…thank to a race called Le Mans.
          And yes, the key is sustainability. The problems comes when budget > returns like in the lasts years in the WEC.
          But it’s a fact that in the WEC a bigger budget is more sustainable then in IMSA.
          In IMSA if you spend more than 15 mln, you will fail. Because the returns aren’t enough.
          In WEC you can spend 25 – 30 mln and earn money.

      • Andy Flinn

        June 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm

        The European audience is sensible to “real” motorsport?

        If current F1 is any representation of “real” motorsport, I’d argue no they’re not.

        This arrogance is the biggest issue I have with the FIA, the ACO, the WEC, and some of its fans.

        So Davide, again I must say that next year I hope you enjoy the “more powerful” WEC and its “super season” serving as the warm up act for the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring.

        If the WEC had ever bothered to ask any fan who ever camped at Sebring for the 12 hour, they would have known that CoTA would be a failure.

        • Just another fan

          June 27, 2018 at 9:11 pm

          I remember the WEC and the ILMC coming to Sebring for the 12 Hour race. Were you there or did you only decide to come to Sebring for the IMSA races after the ALMS demise?

          • Andy Flinn

            June 28, 2018 at 7:03 pm

            Just, I’ve been to most Sebring races since my first in 1978 – long before there was an ALMS. It was a bit scary back then – and I’m not just talking about the bathroom facilities.

            This year, my brothers and I celebrated our 40th anniversary at Sebring.

            The race in 2012 was awesome. Then, the WEC decided they wanted their own race, instead, to establish their own identity in North America.

            That failed.

            I also heard a rumour that the only way the WEC would return to Sebring in 2013 was if the ALMS granted then the authority to run he event. If this is true, Don Panoz wisely told the WEC no way.

            I’m cool with the WEC being a support race for the 2019 12 Hours of Sebring.

        • Davide

          June 28, 2018 at 5:06 am

          Current F1 is one of the worst thing in Motorsport, doesn’t represent nothing and I never talked about F1.
          It was a matter of culture, without any arrogance. I don’t saying if it’s better USA or Europe, I’m saying that are different.
          Generally in the USA is preferred to have a action and show until the end, even if that will limit the technological side or the sport itself.
          In Europe the tech side is important, people want to see really fast cars and the maximum levels of technology and competition.

          And it means also more budget. But they can afford it because they can have bigger returns than IMSA. Even just for Le Mans, which attracts the best teams, manufacturer, sponsor, etc…
          So, more return, more budget. The problems comes when budget is bigger then return (like the last 3 years in the WEC).

          PS: for me arrogance is to judge the others pretending to be in the right and argument with something never said (like F1).
          For me it’s not a matter of who is the best. I like both IMSA and WEC. But they are different and on different level of returns, budget and affordability. It’s a fact.

    • Jenner

      June 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Like the France family isn’t in it for the money and power.

      Yeah, right?

    • GTS

      June 27, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Here’s an interesting fact. Budgets in IMSA for P2 and GTE are on par with WEC. And yet it’s a domestic series.

      And IMSA are the organisation demanding a whacking great fee for brands to compete in GTD. A class that should be packed yet now anemic and saddled with huge running costs. Then we have GTE with no customer outfits other a semi-works Risi. And a prototype field with a handful of privateers.

      Porsche have just sold 7 customer RSR’s to WEC & ELMS teams. With another 6 to be sold next season. That’s in addition to Ferrari and Aston customer cars. There are also 25 P2’s competing across WEC and ELMS and 10 cars in P1. 8 of which are customer cars.

      • Dave

        June 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm

        Ummm, well 18 of 42 cars running this week at the Glen are GTD. Not sure how many pitboxes they have, but that’s nearly full. How many cars should there be in GTD?

      • Andy Flinn

        June 27, 2018 at 2:31 pm

        GTS, the fact that you try to compare IMSA to the WEC and ELMS (as if they’re ONE series) completely destroys your credibility.

        Why not lump in Blancpain, DRM, Aussie Supercars and the Asian Le Mans series, too?

        I’d love to discuss with you WEC LMP2 (the WEC’s alternative to DPi) which continues to be dominated by the Oreca/spec Gibson, and WEC GTE-Am, which has ALWAYS had far fewer and less manufacturer diverse entries than GTD (IMSA’s Pro-Am GT class).

        However, that would require that we focus on comparing just the TWO series.

        • Steven

          June 27, 2018 at 5:15 pm

          DPi was created to solely keep GM, Honda, Mazda, and Nissan racing in prototypes since LMP2 is suppose to be only a privateer run class in the other global series from 2017 onwards. Neither 4 of those had zero intentions of ever racing in the top class nor do they actually want to build their own chassis from the ground up.

          You can’t compare GT-AM to GTD. They are 2 completely separate classes as GT-AM uses 1 year old GTE spec cars. The FIA WEC also limits its full-time entry list and GT-AM is normally the one that gets least amount of love in the series. It’s almost never even talked about during the race. GTD is probably the best racing in IMSA as the other classes are too heavily BoP for manufactured results.

  4. Dave

    June 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I like that there is a factory GT class and an AM GT class. Not sure if it needs to be GTE though. GT3 would provide exciting and affordable racing. The GT class serves as traffic for the top class(es) and makes sportscar racing (IMO) more exciting than F1, Indy, (name your parade series). If WEC opened up the GT3 ranks you would have more manufacturers participating. I’m sure Lambo, Mercedes, Acura, Audi, McLaren, Lexus and likely soon Toyota would love to campaign their GT3s in the WEC and certainly Le Mans. All of the existing GTE cars save for Ford who is exiting anyway have GT3 counterparts. I’d much prefer a wider field in terms of numbers of manufacturers on the grid at Le Mans than 4 identical cars from one manufacturer hogging up pit boxes.I think it would be a mistake to expect manufacturers to build a GTE class car that races nowhere else AND build new P1 hypercars that will race no where else AND still supply GT3 cars to the world’s other racing series.(If the FIA/ACO want to have something other than GT3 as a class to distinguish the WEC from other GT3 series like Blanpain, then just use a stock GT3 car that can be upgraded to GT3+ spec – larger restrictor, brakes, wing – bolt on).

  5. speedy

    June 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    And were is nascar at today?

    • Andy Flinn

      June 27, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Speedy, NASCAR is STILL much more popular and successful than sports car racing – either here or in Europe.

      I’m not sure if that was the point you were making.

      • Andyneedsarealitycheck

        June 27, 2018 at 9:49 pm

        Andy, you need to check the attendance figures and TV ratings for nascar the last 6 or so years. Plummeting like a rock.

        nascar fans blame the economy but that should not affect TV ratings.

        The economy is better, yet nascar attendance and TV ratings are still down.

        The only reason that nascar was ever popular is the stupidity of “race fans” in this country. Now more and more are realizing that it’s nothing more than WWE on wheels.

        Stage racing? More like “staged” racing.

        And more popular in Europe?

        Oh brother.

        BTW, this IS SportCar365 so shut the hell up about neckcar.

        • Jenner

          June 28, 2018 at 12:13 am

          Notice NASCAR attendance and TV ratings dropping right after Danica retired?

        • Andy Flinn

          June 28, 2018 at 12:22 am

          If you had a clue and spent half the time researching actual numbers that you spend bashing NASCAR, you’d know that NASCAR is still wildly more popular than ANY form of sports car racing.

          IMSA, the WEC (coming off their failure in Texas), even F1, would kill for NASCAR’s “plummeting” numbers in North America.

          That’s a fact.

          I don’t know what “reality” you live in or what it takes to get there.

          NASCAR owns IMSA and the WeatherTech series.

          Get used to it.

          The sooner you can work your way through the acceptance phase, the happier and less bitter you will be.

  6. John

    June 27, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Of course, Porsche has a vested interest in hoping that a vibrant GTE class remains.

    Selling and supporting race cars through PM is an integral part of its business, and pays dividends to its main business, too.

    Porsche’s commitment to the class, and motorsport in general, is firm. Ferrari is in a similar situation, albeit perhaps not to the same level, but still firm.

    The real hope is that GTE doesn’t become a Porsche-dominant, if not effectively, spec class.

  7. Larry

    June 27, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    If you look at that picture, you can see where the 996 and 986 headlights came from. 🙂

    • Helmut

      July 2, 2018 at 9:27 am

      The 986 was there before – even before the 911 GT1 EVO, which already came with those headlights 😉 The 911 GT1-98 just got them as well then.

  8. speedy

    June 27, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    What we seen at lemans this year is these started of a spec class, spec racing/stage race, nascar did these same thing for year’s. Let these aco/fia keep going down this road and see what going to happen, it is not going too be pretty.

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