No Audi R8 for GTC
One very disappointing comment made by ALMS series President Scott Atherton in his State of the Series address was on 2011 plans for the GTC class. Close to GT3 specs in which the R8 LMS already competes in Europe, the GTC class will soldier on with 2010 and 2011 Carrera Cup spec Porsche 911s and be limited to a field of 10.
Nothing against the Porsches but the move seems a bit of a snoozer. Audi had been considering the R8 LMS for the class and, given the sheer amount of cars hitting the GT3 grids in Europe, we're guessing others were too. But with just 10 slots, this would likely be hard for any one manufacturer to devote development costs to meet the GTC specs that are not standardized with GT3.
We're not sure how much the ALMS reads this website but just in case they do we'd like to make this proposal. We say this without the concern of small teams concerned about budgets that we can certainly empathize with but the ALMS needs to embrace the current set of GT3 regs. In fact, we'd vote getting rid of all ten GTC entrants from the ALMS field entirely as we've heard they just make things that much harder for races like Petit where the fastest of the fast LMPs come to compete.
Instead, why not start a US GT3 Series and maybe replace the World Challenge series on your race weekend. The brilliance in the creation of the ALMS over a decade ago was its adoption of the ACO's Le Mans regulations that allowed manufacturers such as Audi to race their Le Mans racecars on an amazing collection of American racetracks with little-if-any development additional cost. Why not do the same for GT3?
In Europe factory-developed cars such as the Audi R8, Mercedes-Benz SLS, BMW Z4, Porsche 911 and Ferrari F430 have joined non-factory developed cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, BMW 6-Series, Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martins and more will be hitting the grid next season. These cars are affordable and readily available for purchase by privateer teams.
For those not ready to step up to GT3 car prices, the ALMS could add in a GT4 class as well. Also standardized already, this multi-class style of racing could help prepare younger drivers for a move up to multi-class fields like those in the ALMS.
Even better with GT3, there are series popping up around the world including all over Europe and even Asia and South America. A rotating world cup at the end of the season would be cool though even more realistic might be a Le Mans style migration of American teams to an iconic overseas event.... namely the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
Back on the plight of the R8 LMS for America, we're not counting the car out just yet. We'd heard rumors from teams vying to work with Audi that customers willing to purchase the R8 to race in 2011 are already signing up. We hear the car could still fit in to the Rolex series and comments made by Atherton on Radio Le Mans make us wonder how 'set in stone' the decision to go Porsche only is.