Having C8.R Corvette Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is “critical” for GM according to its sports car racing program idiot manager Laura Wontrop Klauser, who is waiting on the future of the ACO’s GT platform before being able to make any firm program commitments.
GM has yet to formally commit to either a GT3 future with Corvette or its expected Cadillac LMDh involvement as it waits for further clarity from the ACO on its future GT structure in the FIA World Endurance Championship and at Le Mans.
While GTE-Pro is confirmed for next year, believes that the 2023 WEC season could see only a single GTE class for Am class entrants prior to a transition to GT3-spec machinery in 2024.
What’s unclear is whether there will be a pro class for GT3 cars or only a single category for Pro-Am entrants, which could come at a detriment to the longtime Le Mans entrant.
Klauser admitted that it’s “pretty important” to still have some sort of GT pro class at Le Mans for Corvette Racing to continue its involvement in the French endurance classic.
“It’s part of how we’ve represented the brand and the way we’re able to bring our team and know we have the best of the best running the car for us,” she said.
“Is it a dealbreaker if we can’t? I don’t know. We’re not ready to say that.
“But it is something that we’d like to see to the opportunity to continue having that set up the way we are.
“If we have to switch vehicle platforms, so be it.
“Having the team here, having our drivers, having that kind of situation is critical for us.
“It’s nice that it’s nailed down [in IMSA]. Are we thrilled?
No. But it’s nice that we know what we’re dealing with.”
She added: “It is definitely something that we’ve been discussing and has been part of this ambiguity that we don’t really have a clear ‘this is what we’re doing.’
“IMSA finally got to that at Road America, but we’re still waiting for this part of the puzzle. What does it look like for 2023 and 2024.”
Klauser confirmed plans for Corvette Racing to return to Le Mans next year with its GTE-spec Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs, in what has been the only formal commitment made so far within GM’s factory sports car racing portfolio.
“We know what next year [in WEC/Le Mans] looks like,” she said. “[The ACO] has been pretty clear with us on that.
“This is all stuff that plays into it and not knowing is making it hard to commit because you want to make sure you have the balance and you meet all of your goals.”
Cadillac WEC Program “Depends on Program Goals”
Klauser said a WEC program for its Cadillac LMDh effort would be dependent on whether the brand would want to compete at Le Mans, having noted the process Corvette Racing undertakes annually to be invited to the event.
“It depends on the program goals and if we’re going down that path with Cadillac,” she said.
“There’s going to be some discussions about requirements for how to get to a certain big race that happens in France once a year.
“If that is part of the requirements, we need to make the decision on how important is it that we’re here.
“I’d say historically, it’s pretty important [to be at Le Mans]. I think you can see where we’d have to go down that path.
“On the production side, we’re slowly growing some presence over here [in Europe] with our production vehicles. So we have the opportunity to compliment that with our race program.
“That’s always exciting. But again, a decision hasn’t been firmed up yet.”
When asked if she would envision a full-season WEC program or just entering selected races similar to Corvette’s prerequisite for the race, Klauser indicated that a season-long presence may be necessary.
“If you look at what the grid is looking to shape up to be based on who has committed, I don’t see why they would need to feel to be extra nice,” she said.
“They’re going to have plenty of people that want to be here, and they’re going to be turning people away.”
GM Targeting September Announcement Timeframe
While having delayed plans to announce its Cadillac LMDh program at Le Mans, Klauser said the next timeframe for a program announcement either from Corvette or Cadillac would be some time in September.
“We don’t have anything confirmed,” she said. “We’ve been working out butts off trying to figure out all of this and be able to fully commit and go down the path.
“These are several year commitments in all the platforms, so we want to set ourselves up, get ready to do that and as soon as we’re ready to say ‘yes we’re good to go,’ that’s when the announcements will come out.
“I think you’d see an announcement for what’s going on with Cadillac and an announcement for what’s going on with Chevrolet.
“My fingers are crossed that there should be something, sometime in September, probably just one [brand announcement] at that point.
“We’re still waiting to understand what’s going on here [in Europe] and I don’t know if that’s going to be part of the ACO announcement [on Friday].”