Ratel believes the steps announced earlier this month by WEC promoter and Le Mans 24 Hour organizer Automobile Club de l’Ouest to create a premium category based on the GT3 to replace the current GTE class are positive.
“I support it, because it creates something new and freshness is never a bad thing,” Ratel told Motorsport.com.
“It can create some cool-looking cars: it’s in the tradition of Le Mans, where we always have different looking cars, long-tail cars like‘ Moby Dick ’Porsche 935.
“I think it’s in the DNA of the ACO and was always part of the discussions when we started talking about having the GT3 at the WEC.
“We don’t know how different the cars are because we don’t know the details of the regulations, but it can create something special.”
Ratel believes the idea of rebodied GT3 cars in a category tentatively known as the LMGT will prove attractive to car owners competing in what will be pro-am class only.
“One of the strengths of GT racing is that cars are good investments,” he explains.
“Owners will have special cars: an LMGT will likely cost more than other GT3 races around the world by the end of its career.
“There will not be hundreds of these vehicles; it will be an elite. “
Ratel dismissed the idea that the costs of upgrading the GT3’s machinery to the new rules could be a barrier to entry into the WEC and its affiliated series, including the European Le Mans Series.
“The teams will make a huge savings in terms of running a GT3 car instead of a GTE: the cost per kilometer will be significantly lower,” he explains.
#55 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3: Rino Mastronardi, David Perel, Davide Rigon
Photo by: Asian Le Mans Series
The ACO has announced an intention for a WEC bodykit worth no more than € 50,000 and for the cars to be easily converted back to the regular GT3 specification.
Ratel stressed the importance of teams ’ability to race on the same chassis in multiple series.
“It would be nice if the team could go to Le Mans using the same car they raced at Spa 24 Hours [a round of his GT World Challenge Europe],” he said.
The only question mark for Ratel is whether the rules will be accepted by the ACO’s Asian Le Mans Series, which his organization will help adjust from next year.
The GT class of the Asian championship is already running on pure GT3 rules and Ratel suggested that it would be “quite complicated to mix these new cars with normal GT3s”.
Ratel’s support for the new class came against a backdrop of criticism by some manufacturers involved in the GT3.
Aston Martin Racing boss John Gaw told Motorsport.com: “It’s not necessary – why not stick to what we have?
“If it was a real bodykit, then it would be over € 50,000.”
The ACO outlined its plans for the new GT class with FIA endurance commission president Richard Mille at its traditional press conference during Le Mans week.
The modified bodywork aims to distinguish the cars from the regular GT3 machinery rather than have a big impact on performance.
The ACO and the FIA confirmed at the press conference that there will be no GTE Pro class next year as the WEC moves to new rules in 2024.