Racing no matter what in 2020, even if it is behind closed doors, will be vital to ensure the survival of teams and preserve jobs, according to one of GT3 racing’s top engineers.
Black Falcon lead engineer Renaud Dufour forecasts “catastrophic” results for series that don’t hold any races this year, as the extended downtime would force many teams to close their doors, thus extending the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports car racing.
Speaking to Endurance-Info, Dufour says he supports racing behind closed doors with a minimal presence in the paddock as a solution to keep the motorsport industry in business.
One of Black Falcon’s main programs is GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, which has already canceled or postponed five rounds, including the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
“Like everyone, I hope that the 2020 season will take place well because, if not, it would be catastrophic,” he said.
“Even if you have to race behind closed doors, too bad. If you don’t race in 2020, many teams will no longer be there in 2021.
“Without the 2020 season, motorsport may not be able to recover. What team can afford not to do the 2020 season and still be there in 2021?
“Teams cannot afford it, as well as other freelancers and motorsport professionals.
“What is the problem with racing behind closed doors? We do it well in other sports. Motorsport is never easy. If you want to survive, you have to make important decisions. The priority remains survival.”
Dufour says the priority for all teams when racing does get back underway is to keep businesses afloat, so performance deficits due to the lack of testing and long period of inactivity will not be of importance.
“This is not a problem because performance [is not the top priority],” he said.
“It is important to survive, not to win races. 2021 will also be a complicated year, so it’s important to save money.
“You have to keep a low profile in 2020 and 2021, this is the only solution. Winning races is not the priority of the day. Businesses must be kept open. Everyone’s interest is to race and save money.”
Cost-Cutting Measures Essential
Dufour also highlighted a number of cost-cutting measures that can be taken to help bring motorsport racing, and especially customer-focused GT3 competition, through this tough period.
“Controlling private testing would be a positive decision because, this year, we have seen teams that have already completed more than 20 days of testing, which is not in the spirit of GT3,” he explained.
“It remains customer competition even if the manufacturer provides support. We have a single tire manufacturer, which allows better control with the possibility of delivering a certain number of tires for the year.
“You have to also keep in mind stopping the ‘bling-bling’. If we continue the lifestyle we experienced before the pandemic, it will not pass.
“Extending the life of cars would be a wise decision, as would keeping the current regulations.
“To believe that we are going to have a normal 2020 season is utopian. You have to adapt because everyone is going to lose money.”
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report