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Mercedes accepts slim chances of joining LMGT3 class in 2024 WEC

Mercedes has admitted that its hopes of joining the new LMGT3 class in the World Endurance Championship next year are fading.

#88 Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3: Raffaele Marciello, Timur Boguslavskiy, Jules Gounon

Photo by: AG Photo

Stefan Wendl, head of customer racing at Mercedes-AMG, admitted that the German manufacturer’s attempts to secure entries for what is expected to be an oversubscribed class “so far look not so promising”.

But he stressed that that work is still on-going to lay the groundwork for a two-car entry of Mercedes-AMG GT3s run by one of its customer teams.

“We try and we prepare; we are preparing with more than one team that would have the financial background to finance such a project,” said Wendl, who did not name the teams.

“I am still in hope mode; we do not have confirmation that we will not participate.”

When it was suggested that there may not be room for Mercedes on the WEC grid next year, he said: “This is my assumption how it looks, but you never know.

“It will depend on the number of Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh entries [in the Hypercar class] - we can’t do more than wait for a final answer.”

Mercedes appears to be a long way down the list of manufacturers looking to join LMGT3.

WEC organisers the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest have stated that priority will be given to those manufacturers racing in Hypercar.

Brands that are represented in the Hypercar class are expected to be given priority for the class that replaces GTE Am

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

Brands that are represented in the Hypercar class are expected to be given priority for the class that replaces GTE Am

That means Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Lamborghini, as well as Cadillac and Toyota’s respective sister brands Chevrolet and Lexus, should all be guaranteed entries.

Aston Martin as a manufacturer that has supported the GTE divisions since the relaunch of the WEC in 2012 looked a certainty to continue in the new category even before the announcement of its Hypercar entry with the Valkyrie LMH earlier this month.

Ford and McLaren have already announced their intent to race in LMGT3 with the Proton Competition and United Autosports teams respectively, which suggests they have been given assurances by the ACO and the FIA that their entries will be accepted.

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Those manufacturers would combine to form an 18-car grid of LMGT3s, which appears to be the number the organisers want for next year.

Entries for the 2024 WEC close on 20 November.

The latest comments from Wendl on Tuesday follow those made in May when he said he was “very optimistic” of the chances of Mercedes participating in the new class that replaces GTE Am for next year.

They were made just hours after long-time Mercedes GT3 team Auto Sport Promotion, winner of multiple GT World Challenge Europe titles and the Spa 24 Hours, announced its plans to race in the WEC with the Lexus RC F GT3 next year subject to its entries being accepted.

Wendl revealed that there had been talks with ASP run by former sportscar driver Jerome Policand about the team staying with Merc for a WEC campaign.

ASP team that won GTWCE Endurance title will switch to Lexus for WEC assault

Photo by: AG Photo

ASP team that won GTWCE Endurance title will switch to Lexus for WEC assault

He suggested that it was not possible to make it work financially and that Lexus was able to offer more backing.

Mercedes and ASP created “some valuable memories” together after the French team’s switch from Ferrari in 2016, according to Wendl.

“We understand that he tries to fulfil his dream to participate at Le Mans,” he said. “This was the only way [for him] to come close to that.”

But Wendl insisted that the relationship between Mercedes and ASP is “not a closed book”.

He suggested that it is likely to continue in both the pro-am ranks in GT3 as well as the GT2 European Championship in which the team also runs Mercs.

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