In a historic announcement at the eve of last year’s Le Mans, the ACO and the FIA revealed plans to bring GT3 cars to WEC for the first time since the platform debuted nearly two decades ago.
This will open up the championship to more than a dozen manufacturers, most of which don’t have any cars built to outgoing GTE regulations and were turned off by high cost of entry in the Pro division.
A bumper GT3 field is now expected at Le Mans in 2024, with a large number of teams and manufacturers likely to vie for limited seats in the world’s biggest sportscar race.
Factory Aston Martin driver Thiim has been racing in WEC’s GTE classes since 2013 and also has plenty of experience in the British marque’s Vantage GT3, putting him in a good position to compare the two cars.
While naturally sad to see GTE cars being phased out completely after next season, Thiim said the new GT3 class could play a key role in helping sportscar racing scale new heights in the coming years.
“It’s the direction everything is going, like anywhere you see,” Thiim, who won the 2019/20 GTE Pro title, told Motorsport.com. “The car market is doing a shift towards cleaner stuff.
“First of all, I just hope to come back and enjoy the last year in a proper GT car like GTE. It’s a proud and honour to have been part of the last storyline before it goes to GT3, which is way more customer-based.
“As [with] LMDh, GT3 is going to be so spectacular to watch, especially around Le Mans. It’s going to be insane. And GT3 seems to be much closer also because you also have so much more support from ABS and all that stuff makes it way easier to drive.
“From the spectators’ point of view, it’s going to be probably the best era looking like 20 years ahead with all the LMDh coming in, these beautiful manufacturers and the GT3 besides it. It is going to be an eventual Le Mans and whatever [event] you are going to come to.”
#98 Northwest AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR: Nicki Thiim
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
New Porsche LMDh signing Tandy is another driver with vast amount of experience in both GTE and GT3 machinery and is part of an exclusive club of drivers to have won the unofficial sextuple crown of endurance racing.
Tandy admits GT3 cars aren’t as sophisticated as GTE, but feels any downside is outweighed by the expected increase in competition in what will be a single Pro-Am category for grand touring cars from 2024.
The comments follow Tandy having to compete in a dwindled IMSA field in 2021, when Corvette was left as the only full-season manufacturer in the all-pro GTLM class for GTE cars.
“There are two ways to look at it,” the British driver said. “Number one, we have to remember firstly that this sport is a sport and it needs competition.
“So the fact that GT3 coming in, with all the manufacturer cars that are available, the way the class is managed from a technical level, the BoP level, the availability of cars, teams, drivers, finance behind this to get cars on the grid and race competitively with each other, I think it’s fantastic. It’s exactly what’s needed because I’m sure it will be great racing.
“The only sad thing a little bit for me is that it goes away from more of the technical freedom that we have currently with GTE-spec cars. GT3 is a bit more homologated and there’s less stuff that the teams can do once the car has been homologated.
“You’ve got your product and then you’re going racing, so that I can see is the only downside. And compared to the sporting aspect it’s a very small downside.
“I hope it’s great for the sport, I really do. With LMDh, LMH and GT3 for the years to come in both top series in the world, I think we can all hope that it will be a magical time for the next 5-10 years of sportscar racing.”
original source: GT3 cars will be “spectacular” and “insane” at Le Mans, say WEC drivers