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Ratel on ACO Partnership: ‘We Have to Walk Before We Can Run’

Stephane Ratel on joining forces with ACO; possible increased future cooperation…

Photo: Asian Le Mans Series

Stephane Ratel said his company’s involvement with the ACO in the co-organization of the Asian Le Mans Series could be the start of a larger cooperation in the future between the two sports car racing promoters.

Announced on Friday, SRO Motorsports Group has joined forces with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Asian Le Mans Endurance Management to run the regional series beginning in 2023.

It marks renewed interests between the ACO and Ratel, who was a shareholder of the European Le Mans Series from 2004-2011.

“We have to walk before we can run,” said Ratel on the future. “We go back a long way with the ACO. 

“One thing is sure that the coming success of WEC is a fantastic drive for sports car racing as a whole.

“It will benefit from French GT4, from the roots, because before the end goal was [for drivers] to go to Formula 1.

“Now you can think that for many young drivers the end goal would be to race a Ferrari in Hypercar at Le Mans.

“Therefore the whole world of sports car racing is going to have a golden age. It’s not that we’ve been doing too bad for the last 20 years but it will go to an even higher level.”

There has been increased speculation that the FIA and ACO could utilize SRO’s Balance of Performance system for its new-for-2024 GT3 class in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

When asked if SRO could expand its interests into other ACO-managed series through its expertise in BoP, Ratel said it would be a decision ultimately up the FIA and ACO.

“It’s true that BoP is increasingly complex as the competition grows higher and closer,” he said.

“There was a time with Peter Wright when we introduced BoP where the goal was to have all the brands within eight-tenths of a second.

“Now if one brand is three-tenth of a second [slower] they start screaming. 

“We got to a point where everything matters. The temperature, the altitude, the atmospheric pressure, and it becomes a very increasingly complex exercise, especially GT3, which is a less technically-regulated category than GTE. 

“It’s not easy but if we can help, we will help. But it’s up to the FIA.”

Ratel did acknowledge that managing the BoP for the GT3 class of the Asian LMS could be a first step.

“I think our experience with GT3 on Asian circuits will certainly be helpful,” he said. “But the final decision… It’s called a Le Mans series.

“So from the technical standpoint, anything sporting and technical is down to the ACO. It’s only logical because it bears the name Le Mans.”

ACO President Pierre Fillon was non-committal when asked about increased involvement from SRO in the future.

Confirmation on the makeup of the ACO’s GT3 class for 2024 — widely believed to be Pro-Am — is expected to come during next month’s FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting. 

“Motorsport is at a big evolution at this time,” Fillon said. “Not only motorsport but also mobility and so-on. I think it’s important that all of the big actors of motorsport work together instead… 

“We need to grow up and convince the young generation to be interested by motorsport.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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