Throughout the golden age of sports car racing, classes were pretty straightforward. The cars were grouped together, the faster the car, the higher the class. It didn’t take long for it to spiral out of control.
What had been somewhat tidy classes when Ford GTs took on Ferraris at Le Mans in the 1960s inflated in the 1970s, and in the 1980s, the FIA, top international sports car racing organizers have pretty much streamlined it into three basic letters. Group C was for prototypes. Group B was intended for special low-volume homologation racing on track and in rallying. Group A was for cheap seats, with high volume production based cars filling the entry lists with slower cars.
It was going very well until Group B got so fast people started crashing and dying, Group C has become too expensive, then Group A was all that was left. Everyone kind of wandered in the desert for a few years in the early 90s until the triumphant return of grand touring racing cars with GT1. They were the fastest GT cars, and they got the fastest number possible, 1. This 90s revival, of course, also went awry when Porsche started bending the rules, making everything so expensive that everyone went back to racing prototypes to save money.
GT racing, starting in the 2000s, has been split into a lot of different classes. It had become so complicated that in 2012 we had to order a class-by-class guide. Even that guide is long out of date, with the top GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans now being two overlapping classes, with GTE Pro and GTE Am being differentiated by either fully professional drivers sharing a car or some pros. sharing a car with wealthy dentists on vacation.
Why the somewhat boutique GTE class exists for the highest levels of GT racing while the much more mainstream GT3 class fills races around the world, with many more teams, manufacturers and interesting cars, I don’t know. . I’m not trying to find out! Trying to understand racing regulations means understanding how the FIA, ACO and IMSA work. If you can ever get to the bottom of three different national and international bureaucratic organizations, two in France and one in America, you shouldn’t be reading this site. You should be working at the UN, solving climate change. Anything please, your talents are better spent elsewhere.
In any case, these governing bodies agreed that GTE was leaving and that GT3 would take its place, as RUNNER reports:
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is expected to adopt GT3 regulations from 2024 replacing the GTE formula, meaning GT3 cars will be eligible to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, and the World Championship of FIA Endurance and Le Mans European Series.
This seismic shift comes amid strong manufacturer interest in LMDh and Hypercar, and waning factory interest in the current GTE regulations in FIA WEC and IMSA. FIA Endurance Commission Chairman Richard Mille described the change at today’s ACO press conference at Le Mans, but was light on the details, meaning it remains still many unanswered questions.
What this means for the cars themselves is somewhat unclear, as the GT3 class itself will be get some revisions by then. All that can be said is that the organizers want these cars to be reserved for amateur drivers, because Sports car365 reports, with what would be a ban on factory teams.