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DAGYS: Ratel Planning for the Future with GT2

John Dagys explores the implications of SRO’s newly announced GT2 class and its future…

Photo: SRO

Last weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa once again lived up to its billing as the premier GT3 race in the world.

Sixty-one GT3-spec cars, spread between a race-record 13 manufacturers, took the start in the Belgian endurance classic, which serves as the centerpiece of Stephane Ratel’s hugely successful Blancpain GT Series.

Yet, less than 24 hours prior to the race start, Ratel quietly announced what could eventually serve as the future flagship category for SRO Motorsports Group and customer GT racing globally.

GT2, a new category aimed for high-powered supercars, at least initially for gentlemen drivers, was formally unveiled, following nearly two years of development to create a new class of cars to bridge the gap between GT3 and GT4 in both costs and performance.

While the name, which SRO shrewdly acquired more than a year ago, dates back to the FIA and ACO-inspired category that was renamed GTE in 2011, there’s virtually no similarities to the factory-blooded, FIA-controlled class that we see today.

In fact, Ratel’s vision for GT2 is quite the opposite.

The concept, detailed during the Frenchman’s annual press conference, is to take “true supercars” with limited drivetrain and aerodynamic developments, and put them into a new cost-effective class, in an architecture similar to SRO’s booming GT4 formula.

While not giving any examples of eligible cars, it’s believed models such as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, McLaren 720S and Aston Martin Vulcan are targeted for the all-new category, which will launch next year with eligibility in several series, as well as a planned one-off race.

Taking the ambitious timeline aside, Ratel’s new vision may not initially make a lot of sense to sports car racing aficionados.

First, the name is confusing, and potentially even misleading, given that GT2 will slot in between GT3 and GT4, and not be above GT3. 

Some may also question whether the already crowded GT marketplace could use another category, at a time when there’s GTE, GT3, GT4, as well as various single-make Cup series competing around the world.

There’s also the thought of whether 700-horsepower, low-downforce supercars in the hands of gentlemen drivers is a viable option, particularly on the same track with GT3 machinery.

But I have to believe Ratel is just laying the groundwork in his pursuit to protect customer-based GT racing.

It was described at the press conference that GT2 has been launched to also act as a “safeguard” should GT3 cars get too expensive, or if the long-discussed convergence, or now know internally within FIA as ‘harmonization’, with GTE materializes. 

While Ratel, who’s been adamantly opposed to convergence, has stressed he remains fully committed to GT3, the category’s future is not in his full control.

GT4, which is largely devoid of involvement from the FIA, however, is.

That same model is being used for GT2, in that the SRO is expected to serve as the sole regulators of the class, with the help of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, the organization that’s behind some of the administrative duties in GT4, including car homologations.

It would allow Ratel, largely considered the father of modern-era GT racing, to steer his own ship and bypass the oftentimes political landscape of the FIA and have full freedom with the new class.

I fully believe that GT2, which will initially be launched as an Am subclass for the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, Blancpain GT Series Asia and Pirelli World Challenge in North America, for 2020, could eventually replace GT3 altogether in SRO’s series, given the right conditions.

The next 24 months will be a crucial phase in determining its path and success, but if history tells us anything, GT racing has been, and will likely always be, a constant evolution.

Ratel has lived through the rise and fall of GT1 and there’s no doubt he has one eye on the incredible GT racing landscape he’s created and another keen eye on the future.

The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Sportscar365.com, John Dagys Media, LLC and/or any/all contributors to this site.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. daedalus

    August 1, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Ratel knows that GT3 is becoming unsustainable in the long term even if the grids are good in the pan european series with the semi works teams. The national series that rely more on AM funding are struggling whether its in IMSA,PWC,British GT, Australian GT, Italian GT or others.

    Many lower profile national GT3 series have already folded or switched to GT4 (French GT, GT Brazil). Ratel is just ensuring the future of GT racing by planning ahead. He has done it before when he created GT3 in the era of GT1/GT2 and now he is repeating the process. If he can also kick the FIA out this time all the better. Ratel has a passion for GT racing the FIA does not.

    • Old Trombone

      August 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      “Kick the FIA out” Hmmmm, Daedalus Nostradamus.

      Imagine that? ACO folds after 2020 doesn’t work out, and the FIA goes with it after IMSA refuses to bail them out. Then SRO sweeps in (Like IMG’s “AVESCO” did at Bathurst in 1997) perhaps in October instead of June, and runs a new-era LM24 with GT1 supplied by IMSA’s DPi formula, the new GT2, and GT3 and GT4 all in one SRO Festival.

      That would actually be a better LM24, wouldn’t it?

      • A Sleeper From Pittsburg

        August 2, 2018 at 9:40 am

        No, it wouldn´t.

        • Old Trombone

          August 2, 2018 at 10:15 am

          “No” is such a brilliant idea…

  2. Russ C

    August 1, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    There are too many classes. Each are very close to others as far as lap times are concerned, making the fan experience quite muddled. Maybe if the paint colors were the same for each class it might be more interesting, but at 200 yards a multi-colored Porsche is just a multi-colored Porsche. It might be a Cayman, a 911 GT3, a 911 GT2, or even an RSR.

    There might be four classes racing at the same time which is certainly interesting for the race teams and drivers, but to us ticket-buying fans, it’s just a bowl of spaghetti. The organizing bodies should talk to the fans. The world is full of ultra-wealthy people who want to be a racer just like real professional drivers. They’ll attend whatever is organized. Will the fan base grow? That’s the question they should be asking.

    • Harry Manback

      August 2, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      hahah – WHAT?!? This is a troll, right? If not, it might be time to retire from sportscar fanhood, gramps.

    • racer99a

      August 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      This is a good point for the casual fan. If you ever bring friends that are not so knowledgable to a race, it can be a little difficult to explain the differences in the cars.

      I.e, when a Ferrari 488 is racing in two different classes (GTLM & GTD). Same goes for some GT3/GT4 cars like the Audi and Mercedes.

      Like what Dagys said, there are many GT classes as it is right now. Is there a large enough market among rich amateurs to sustain another?

      • Edgar Sanchez

        August 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm

        It certainly is getting difficult for casual fans. I took a few buddies out to the PWC Portland races recently. Sure enough they started asking aboyt similar cars in different classes(R8 GT3/GT4, Merc GT3/GT4, Lambo GT3/ST). My go-to answer was that there were different levels of modifications/preparation. The confusion really got epic during podium celebrations explaining Pro, Pro/Am, and Am classes.

  3. N8

    August 1, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I’m still struggling to understand what it is. These are street cars with safety upgrades?

    The SRO portfolio of series’, races and championships is now so broad, I don’t know how anyone makes sense of any of it. A sprint championship, an endurance championship, a pro, pro/am and Am championship within each. An Asian series, an OEM championship based on results from select races, a world drivers championship based on the result of a race where it’s impossible to pass……I mean, should I continue? Who’s NOT being served by this kind of offering? Is he attracting an all new cast of participants, or just cannibalizing these championships to fill the grid for new ones?

    • Edgar

      August 3, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      And that’s not including Ferrari Challenge, Porsche Cup, or Lamborghini Supertrofeo.

  4. Rick

    August 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    First, Mr. Dagys should know the difference between its and it’s.

    Second, the whole concept is lame. We stopped caring who is racing where. World Challenge used to be so exciting when they had two classes. Now everyone keeps adding these stupid classes because it makes money and manufacturers are happy that they can boast that they won even if there was no real competition.

    Kudos to Stephane for taking his original series that was almost dead and bringing it to life despite people not believing in him.

    • Old Trombone

      August 2, 2018 at 10:33 am

      “Mr. Dagys should know the difference between its and it’s.”

      Oh, we have a discourse analyst amongst us! What a rare privilege. Foucault and Derrida make their much-anticipated philosophical impact right here on SC365. Look ‘em up, they’re great.

      Foucault:
      “As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.”
      “I’m not making a problem out of a personal question; I make of a personal question an absence of a problem.” (said Rick to Dagys)

      Derrida:
      “If this work seems so threatening, this is because it isn’t simply eccentric or strange, but competent, rigorously argued, and carrying conviction.”
      “No one gets angry at a mathematician or a physicist whom he or she doesn’t understand, or at someone who speaks a foreign language, but rather at someone who tampers with your own language.”
      “The poet…is the man of metaphor: while the philosopher is interested only in the truth of meaning, beyond even signs and names, and the sophist manipulates empty signs…the poet plays on the multiplicity of signifieds.” Rick, you sophist, you.

      So Rick of the apostrophe police, how exactly does your syntax-theory accept this?:
      “We stopped caring who is racing where.”

      Derrida’s most important point was that children love certainty, and adults can handle uncertainty. More race-classes is uncertainty for the TV viewer, but it is certainly more cash for the enterprise as a whole, meaning it is sustainable, and we can keep watching it on TV. Howz That for discourse analysis?

  5. Mike S.

    August 1, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    I just hope its gentlemen that are actually serious and not some rich guy driving that creates more on track problems with a high horsepower car without downforce which I am sure takes a lot of skill and patience to learn. But that is a detail that is far ahead of where this project is now currently.

    • Willis

      August 1, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      I hear what your saying, but what the world really needs is the next Vadim Kogay.

      • el_gordo

        August 2, 2018 at 3:43 am

        for those who don’t know google “The race of my life Monza 2014”

  6. Matt

    August 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Has anyone thought about maybe lessening or restricting the development of GT3s?
    I recall back in the mid 2000s GT3s were visually identical to their road counterparts. I know most GT3s share many of the same components as their road going variants. But when I hear GTE cars being cross compatible to GT3 and all the funky aero being added, I tend to think this is not the case anymore.
    I think pegging back the GT3s performance would have been my preference, but still exited for this new GT2 reg.

    • StueyB83

      August 2, 2018 at 8:54 am

      The people who build the GT3 cars control the regs. That is, the manufacturers.

      Some actually care about customer sports programs, as long as they can control market pricing and supply to keep the $$$ coming in.

      Racing is a luxury, after all.

  7. Rocket J Squirrel

    August 1, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    I look forward to 2021 when Ratel introduces a GT1 class which slots in below GT2 but above GT4, has the power to weight ratio of a NASCAR Modified but can only be driven by Bronze drivers with less than 12 races under their belts.

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      August 2, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Haha, best comment so far.

  8. Ko I

    August 11, 2018 at 9:47 am

    So, he wants to add a class that’s faster on the straights, where passing a slower car is safer, and slower on the turns, where you run out into the marbles when you try to pass, and wanting it to be an AM class, meaning passing on the turns is even riskier.
    Is he trying to turn Blancpain into NASCAR, where the crashes are all people come to see? Or maybe trying to make marshals work harder, pulling cars out of gravel traps every three laps?

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