The full-season entry list for the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship season is set to be capped at 37 cars.
This was confirmed by ACO president Pierre Fillon, WEC CEO Frédéric Lequien and FIA Endurance Commission president Richard Mille at an end-of-season media roundtable in Bahrain last weekend. This cap has been put in place, Lequien said, due to garage space limitations at Imola and Circuit of The Americas.
“37 is the right number. Fuji is not so bad, it’s Imola and Austin (that are the issue). So (37 cars) that’s the plan,” he said
When asked about the potential for the full-season grid to reach 40 cars “not for 2024,” was Lequien’s response. “It’s too complicated because of the refueling in the garage. If we have two cars in the same garage you need two refueling systems, and it’s unfair.
“We have to find a solution. The goal is to increase the grid (in future seasons).”
In addition to clarifying how many cars will be on the grid next year, Richard Mille also shed more light on the selection process for the LMGT3 class, confirming that teams will be turned away due to there being such a high level of interest for the category’s debut season.
“We will have to take these decisions, which is not easy,” he said.
The topic of automatic invitations for the Le Mans 24 Hours was also raised and an important clarification was made during this discussion. Any teams not in the FIA WEC that wish to compete in the ELMS LMGT3 class or at Le Mans via a guest entry, must run with a car that is being campaigned in the WEC’s LMGT3 class. Richard Mille explained, in simple terms, that this is the case “because of BoP.”
That decision means that any teams which earn an automatic invitation to the Le Mans 24 Hours via successes in the Asian Le Mans Series, Le Mans Cup or IMSA, would need to switch cars at La Sarthe if the OEM wasn’t represented in the FIA WEC that season.
Mille also confirmed that there will be two cars for each manufacturer in the WEC’s LMGT3 class, meaning the 37th space on the grid will almost certainly go to a Hypercar team. The split is therefore expected to be 19 in the top class and 18 in LMGT3.
RACER approached Fillon after the briefing and asked if Ferrari’s planned third 499P Hypercar would need to be a customer-run car by regulation if it was entered for the full season. The answer was “yes”. The car cannot be a full-factory entry, as the maximum number of factory cars per manufacturer will remain at two.
This was a frequent topic of conversation in the Bahrain paddock, as during the week Antonello Coletta, Ferrari’s global head of endurance and corse clienti, shed more light on Ferrari’s new stance on supporting a third 499P Hypercar for the FIA WEC. In addition to confirming that Ferrari will not support a 499P for an IMSA GTP program, he also made it clear that the brand isn’t interested entering a third car exclusively for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“If we consider a third car it will be for a whole season, not just for Le Mans,” he said. “It’s not interesting for us to manage a third car for one race. It will probably be a customer (rather than a factory car).”