International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) has announced, that 2021 will be the final year of the GTLM category in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The category has delivered great race for many years, with several car manufacturers involved. The cars have been similar to the GTE cars, running in Europe and the FIA WEC, so the cars could be used all over the world, and the teams could put the very best drivers into them – and then fight for victories at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans etc.
There was a shock announcement in the summer of 2020, when Porsche chose to end their commitment to the GTLM category in the USA, and later on, BMW pulling out as a full-time entrant. BMW does, however, compete at the four endurance rounds in the series, while Porsche is represented by the private Proton team, that will run the WeatherTech Racing car in 2021.
The plan for 2022 is to introduce a new GTD Pro category, with the current GT3 cars, and the brand new cars, that will be homologated for 2022. The GTD Pro teams will be allowed to stick as many works drivers into the cars, as they want, while the GTD category will remain a Pro-Am category.
There have been rumours of this for quite some time. It’s still a kick in the guts to Corvette Racing, since they have only just built their C8.R, that made its debut and on the championship straight away in 2020. Corvette doesn’t currently have any C8.R GT3 car, while there has been running privately build C6.R and C7.R GT3 cars in Germany, build by Callaway Competition.
Some GTLM/GTE cars can be converted to GT3 or vice versa, but it’s still unknown if that would be possible with the current C8.R model.
Another question is – what will Corvette Racing do regarding the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Will they run that race only, with their current car, while running IMSA with a new GT3 car, or will they run in the FIA WEC, to get the Le Mans routine? An alternative would be the LMDh route, and build a car for the top category.
It’s still unknown, if there will be BOP differences between GTD Pro and GTD, or if it will be anybody against everybody, and Pro drivers just simply have to push harder than gentleman drivers.
There are currently 9 different brands in the GTD category – including Porsche, Ferrari and BMW, that run in both GTLM and GTD.
The rule changes will come into effect on 1 January 2022.