The Targa Florio is set to return to a competition with modern-era sports cars, with SRO Motorsports Group planning to utilize the event for its GTX World Tour beginning in 2024.
Announced during its annual press conference at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, SRO’s forthcoming all-electric vehicle competition will take on portions of the historic 72-kilometer circuit in Sicily that’s now run as a historic rally event.
Founded in 1906, the world-renowned road race was part of the World Sportscar Championship from 1955-1973 before the event was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns.
SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel said his concept would establish a link between the oldest sports car racing event in the world and the “most modern project of the 21st century.”
“It exists as a rally and what we want to do is to bring a different format, not to join it in the same way, to do something different,” he explained.
“Now, we want to come if it works with some manufacturers.
“But it won’t be the rally it is today. It will be the concept of GTX, which is exposure, efficiency, hillclimb, rally stage and circuit racing.
“So maybe the rally stage [we] will probably use… but it is important that it will have its own program.”
The agreement with the Automobile Club d’Italia includes the use of both the original numeration and a portion of the iconic roads, with the target of holding the event every May as a “Prologue.”
Ratel said he would ultimately like to see three GTX events, one in Europe, another in the U.S. and a third “elsewhere” in the world.
“Every year we will start in May with the GTX Targa Florio, because I think it is a fantastic name,” he said.
“It has value for manufacturers. So you you have the GTX Targa Florio and then you will have maybe in June Paris-to-Berlin and then in September you will have something in America.
“I’m talking in five years and then you will do one year some amazing roads in Australia, some other years in Tasmania. I don’t know.
“We have many ideas for things we can do with these types of cars.”
SRO Tweaks GTX World Tour Concept; OEM Interest Grows
Progress has been made in the development of the competition, with five OEMs having attended the first manufacturer working group in April, and four of them now involved in the definition of the sporting and technical regulations.
The SRO has appointed a dedicated person to take charge of the project.
“We now have a team of experts in organizing this [competition],” said Ratel. “We thought what is the best way for the future of electric mobility, electric sport.
“We still believe duplicating and bringing electric cars at Spa for competition [in the 24 Hours] is going to be challenging but we thought if we take these cars from the center of cities to the center of other cities…
“Our first big objective is to go from Paris to Berlin in seven days. On the way you stop for short racing on small tracks and you do hillclimb and rally stages. You have fun with friends.
“This is something that can answer the need for customer sport and SRO is customer sport. We’re very serious about what we’re doing with GTX.
“We’ve started conversation with manufacturers. Four of them are taking it seriously with us. We also have initiated with another two.
“We believe that step by step we will have manufacturers doing it.
“It has to be initiated by the manufacturers to develop the cars but then designed for customers because we hope it will be customers doing the rallies.”
Ratel said he’s “changed the mindset” of the GTX World Tour from utilizing concept EVs to instead having production-based models with manufacturer support.
“Before we wanted to do this and this and that,” he said. “We have a working group with quite a lot of manufacturers and we told them what we can do and said ‘prepare a car for us.’
“That did not work that well. They all came back and said with our current cars or what we are planning soon, we believe this and this and this is possible and we have reshuffled our project on what is possible to do with this type of format.
“In the beginning I got a bit carried away with concept cars. We have to wait for road going cars, prepared to go racing.
“Basically you take an Audi e-tron and enhance a bit in terms of performance and make it race-ready. That, I think, has worked.”
SRO is also in dialogue with the FIA on the proposed use of common N-EGT regulations, which could serve as the basis for the GTX World Tour.
N-EGT differs from the proposed FIA Electric GT Championship, which is believed to have been postponed or entirely called off.