MATT JAMES “GTE Pro looks like it will be a high­light”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

While the ma­jor scraps at Le Mans this sea­son will be fought out among the fac­tory play­ers at the front of the field, Porsche, Toy­ota and Audi are un­likely to pro­duce as close a com­pe­ti­tion as some of the classes will.

Af­ter last week­end’s test day, the eye is im­me­di­ately drawn to the fight that will race in the GTE Pro di­vi­sion. Of the 14 ma­chines that took part in the test run­ning, there was only 1.8s be­tween them in terms of lap time.

For any other race meet­ing, that might sound like a size­able gap, but don’t for­get that this is Le Mans. There are 8.469 miles of cir­cuit to get wrong – or right. There are cars to lap. There are vari­ances in a num­ber of el­e­ments to over­come.

The fact that man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Corvette, As­ton Martin and Fer­rari are tak­ing the di­vi­sion se­ri­ously is good news on two counts.

Firstly, one of the ma­jor rea­sons that firms with that kind of sport­ing her­itage are in­ter­ested in putting their ma­chines in the shop win­dow is pre­cisely that – it is a place to sell hard­ware. That means that there is a healthy mar­ket­place, which in turn means GT rac­ing is strong glob­ally.

And if man­u­fac­tur­ers want to show off their ma­chines be­ing driven as fast as they can go, then they are go­ing to be look­ing around at the best of the up-and-com­ing tal­ent to pedal them.

Of course, there will al­ways be a place for am­a­teurs in GT rac­ing (although, in some of the line-ups on the grid for this year’s edi­tion of the 24 hours, it is hard to spot the weaker link). The gentlemen races have al­ways been the un­der­pin­ning of that type of rac­ing, and they should not be over­looked.

But GTE Pro is the high­est level, and that means that there are a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties for younger rac­ers, an in­creas­ing num­ber of which are turn­ing their back on sin­gle-seaters as the costs rise to pro­hib­i­tive lev­els.

A driver can make a de­cent ca­reer in GTS, and it is the goose lay­ing the golden egg as the cat­e­gory flour­ishes.

Of course, with the ma­jor sportscar makes tak­ing GT rac­ing so se­ri­ously at the high­est level, it is still a tough route for a young racer to take. It is no longer a safe har­bour for those sin­gle­seater rac­ers who were ‘good but not quite good enough’. These days, there is nowhere to hide. That is just an­other el­e­ment which is go­ing to make the GTE Pro di­vi­sion worth keep­ing an eye on at the French clas­sic.

GTE Pro looks set to be one of the tigh­est bat­tles

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