The face of the LM GT1 category in both the American and European-based Le Mans Series champions has evolved over the last two seasons, and with Monday's announcement of Le Mans Series stalwart Team Modena moving to LM GT2 for 2009, further ...
The face of the LM GT1 category in both the American and European-based Le Mans Series champions has evolved over the last two seasons, and with Monday's announcement of Le Mans Series stalwart Team Modena moving to LM GT2 for 2009, further questions hang over the future of the premier GT category.
"Running the GT2 car will be a new challenge for us," said Team Modena principal Graham Schultz. "GT2 is highly competitive in the LMS, but we have shown before that we can be winners in that series, and we are sure we will be able to show the professionalism and performance that people have come to expect from us in international sportscar racing."
Team Modena will campaign a Ferrari F430 GT in the highly competitive category. In addition to its Le Mans Series campaign, the team has also submitted an entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as its automatic invite was only eligible for GT1. The driver line-up will be announced at a later date. Tomas Enge and Antonio Garcia drove the its Aston Martin DBR9 to three victories in the GT1 category this season.
"We have enjoyed success in GT1 with our Aston Martin DBR9," said sporting director Rik Bryan, "and have made a big contribution to the racing success of that model. Looking forward into 2009 and beyond, there is no big secret that my first love is Ferrari and I have always had a great relationship with Maranello, so it this is a very exciting move for me personally and the team as a whole."
Only a handful of GT1 cars graced the Le Mans Series grid this season, with Team Modena amongst them with its Aston Martin. The British-based team finished runner-up to Luc Alphand Aventures in the teams' championship. Alphand's two Corvette C6.Rs and IPB Spartak Racing's Lamborghini Murcielago were the only other teams that contested the entire five-round season.
Now with Team Modena vacating GT1 and rumors of Alphand jumping ship to the FIA GT Championship, GT1 in Europe may become non-existent, at least for one year. The same may be the case in the American Le Mans Series, as sole competitors Corvette Racing will only contest two early-season races before introducing its GT2 Corvette C6.R mid-season.
In 2010, new GT regulations will come into place, which will see the two categories mainly separated by engine displacement. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest will adopt these new regulations, which are the brainchild of FIA GT Championship and SRO promoter Stephane Ratel. However, it's uncertain what manufacturers, if any, will align in the new GT1 category.