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GTE: Who’s Coming, Who’s Going & Who’s Staying?

Six marques in 2018. How many in 2019 or 2020?

At present there are plenty that are trying to get a handle on what comes next in GTE (or in IMSA’s world GTLM), who is going to step up, and will a move towards a ‘GT Proto’ style of LMP1 regulations divert or delay anyone currently looking to make a move?

Of the current crop there are two brand new models for 2018, Aston Martin‘s new Vantage GTE and BMW‘s M8 GTE, Ferrari is racing the ‘Evo version of their 488 in the coming season and Porsche‘s mid-engined 911 RSR is entering its second season of competition.

Corvette are known to be in the final stages of development of a mid-engined C8, looking set for launch as a road car in 2019, that surely will see competition to replace the faithful, and successful, C7.R.

Corvette are known to be in the final stages of development of a mid-engined C8, looking set for launch as a road car in 2019

Less clear is the future for Ford, the competition programme for the Ford GT was initially planned for two seasons, then doubled to four before the FIA WEC changed the structure of their season to transition to a winter-based calendar.

That could see the GTE programme in it’s final year in the FIA WEC in the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’.

So who could join the party?

McLaren are tight-lipped over what might emerge from this week’s Geneva Show, but a ‘surprise’ is promised. And with the company focusing more and more of their promotional efforts on ‘Super Sports’ versions of their roadgoing range, motorsport, or at least track relevance, outside of the brand’s F1 heartland is back in favour. The model du jour is the Senna, and 2020, the 25th anniversary of the brand’s Le Mans overall win, is looming.

GTE though is amongst the toughest of nuts to crack and will require time, resource and effort – don’t expect a rapid return to Le Mans for the brand if (and when) it happens, but rather a programme designed to base the required performance and reliability against the required commercial realities. Whether that emerges in GTE, or elsewhere, remains to be seen!

Lamborghini have long been known to be on the look-out for a programme to take their current motorsport activities a step forward, are known to have actively investigated (and rejected) a number of options, including DPi and an IndyCar engine effort, and are known to have looked longer and harder at GTE than at most alternatives.

Sources link the potential for a Lamborghini GTE programme to the commercial fortunes of the brand’s new Urus über SUV, powered by a reportedly completely new and GTE-ideal twin-turbo 4-litre V8!

For now though the brand says only that “we’re not close to a GTE announcement… This year we’re still focused on Super Trofeo and GT3.” Interestingly though, they don’t count it out!

Toyota have a new Supra on the way and there has been a flurry of Japanese media and fan site activity pointing to GTE being an active consideration for the new car.

Don’t be distracted by the Euro-US motoring press hijacking of the potential announcement, read only the original material. That indicates that Toyota will present a GTE spec racer at Geneva though several brand sources say that no programme is currently planned.

Toyota above almost all mainstream brands though has a tendency to compartmentalise special projects to such a degree that many other parts of the company can be unaware of their existence

Toyota above almost all mainstream brands though has a tendency to compartmentalise special projects to such a degree that many other parts of the company can be unaware of their existence, and for an unfeasibly long time! And that’s not always a good thing as the troubled genesis of the Lexus RC-F showed…

We all love something a little left-field don’t we, so lets take a look at another brand that has ambitions at the sharp-end of GT racing.

Jim Glickenhaus has wowed racegoers and hyper-car watchers with his trademark brand of ‘wow’ for years now.

 His SCG003 claimed pole position for the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2017 and a single car effort is due to return this season.

As the company works to complete sales of the short production run of roadgoing SCG 003s though there are bigger plans afoot. The successor SCG004 (below) is aiming for much more significant sales numbers, some 250 per year, and that commercial ambition is matched, if not exceeded, by Glickenhaus’s competition plans for the car which foresee both a GT3 and GTE version of the new car.

 Yes we’ve heard this before from aspirant supercar builders.

Glickenhaus though has shown that his ambitions meet his dreams several times before. If he makes this one stick it will be a return to competition for a truly boutique brand, something we haven’t seen for many a year. (Stop Press, in a Tweet to the DSC Ed Jim says he would like to aim for LMP1).

Then there’s the re-emerging TVR. Les Edgar prefaced early pronouncements about the new Griffith with promises of one-make and international competition. The ‘reveal’ at the Goodwood Revival even featured a large scale model of a racing version of the car.

With the heavy lifting required to get a new car onto a commercial footing the competition side of things has taken a step back.

As and when it does happen, a one-make racer looks likely to be the first offering. But look out for TVR finding a way back into international motorsport if and when the Griffith becomes a more familiar sight on our roads.