Gulf Racing driver and team owner Mike Wainwright spent time during the Mexico City FIA WEC race with DSC discussing the state of GTE Am in the FIA WEC, and revealing what he believes and hopes the WEC governing body will do going forward to ensure a good standard of competition in the class.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Am class next year,” Wainwright said to DSC. “Because unless they really hold back the Ferrari (488) – because some people will almost definitely buy that – it’ll be hard for us Porsche teams fro compete.”
To this point the WEC has not publicly committed to the shape of the class year. Usually, Am runners must use a GTE car that’s a year old, but into next season, there’s no word that the same rules will apply, and in particular, whether or not the Ferrari 488 GTE will be eligible compete.
The numbers expected in the class are also unknown, with some teams beginning to become frustrated with the lack of assurances for the future of the category.
“We have a feeling for what Porsche are doing with the existing car in terms of offering it to Am customers, but nothing is confirmed,” he continued. “I’m hopeful that it doesn’t change much from what it is now, because if you make the step next year for the new car, why would you want to spend more money on small upgrades.
“I don’t know what’s happening with Aston to be honest, Porsche are in limbo, Corvette I think is there or thereabouts but I’m not sure the direction they’re going with the car.
“Next year will be an in-between year to be honest, but I don’t know if people will be running the 488 in Am next year, which is the car to have. Am has always been a year behind Pro. So my question to Porsche is, why would I want to do the update to the existing Porsche, which doesn’t make it as competitive as it needs to be? Why spend money for a year and get little back for it, when you’re getting a new car a year after?”
Despite all that, Wainwright expressed his team’s desire to race in the WEC next season, whether he takes the wheel in every race or not. Heading into the race at Austin, Gulf Racing currently sits fifth in the GTE Am standings with 62 points. It’s been a difficult year, as it has been for most of the Porsche runners, retiring at Silverstone and finishing either fourth or fifth at Spa, Le Mans, the Nürburgring and Mexico City since.
“If we can do WEC next year and make it happen we will do it. In terms of my time and being able to do the whole championship, I can’t confirm anything. I want to race and I can’t really cherry pick races. It’s all about Le Mans, I want to do Le Mans again in a Porsche, so to get the entry you sort of have to do WEC to get the guarantee.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it,” he explained when asked about evaluating his personal performances this year, and his commitment going forward. “It’s a ridiculously expensive sport, and you’re only doing it for fun. At the end of the day though we want to do it properly. These away trips also make it special. I go back to 2011 and I did a couple of races in the ILMC and it was awesome.
“The difficulty again for me rather than the other guys is finding the time. For me this is time off work and therefore you are taking holiday time. The car has been harder to run than expected, and the amount that the other Am drivers drive outside of the races makes it difficult for me. They’ve got me or two seconds on me, and over a race that’s a lot. I’m not able to get there yet.
“I’d say in general, we expected to be more competitive this season, based on our previous form. We want to continue in WEC though, Gulf are pushing hard for us to do it too. They’re comfortable with what we represent, so it’s just a question of how we can make it work.”