SRO Motorsports Group has ruled out the introduction of the GT2 class into Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli next season after initially announcing plans to run the category alongside GT3 machinery.
The emerging SRO GT platform, which has seen recent commitments from Maserati and Mercedes-AMG, was due to feature in the globe-trotting series beginning next year.
However, those plans have now been pushed back to 2024 according to Stephane Ratel, who has cited long lead times from manufacturers as one of the contributing factors.
“For next year it will be too early,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “I don’t see it happening because I don’t see Maserati pushing for that. I don’t see Mercedes pushing [for the start of 2023].
“The cars are new, let’s do one year of development.
“But I really think in 2024, then there could be enough cars and enough interest that we then can have the number and enough cars to launch the class and promote it throughout the season.”
Ratel previously said they needed at least six entries committed for the full five-round IGTC campaign in order to launch the class, which is aimed at amateur drivers.
“If we introduce it, we need to have enough cars to have a real class and a real competition,” he said. “It’s no good if you only have two cars; you’d devaluate the product.
“I want to introduce it only when there are enough [cars].
“With the delayed deliveries, I don’t see we’ll have enough cars to do it next year. Let’s first grow progressively in Fanatec GT2 Europe and then we’ll see how it goes.”
In addition to the GT2 European Series, GT2-spec cars have made appearances in 24H Series powered by Hankook endurance races as well as in SRO’s GT America powered by AWS this year.
“First of all, let’s see some GT2s,” Ratel said. “As you can imagine, I’m very, very, very pleased with Mercedes. I think it looks absolutely fabulous.
“It takes time, especially nowadays with all of the spare parts and supplier issues they have and all of the lead time when you talk to manufacturers.
“I think it’s almost been two years that I’ve hoped this car would arrive. Then came the Track Series, which was not really a GT2, then it was delayed. But now we have this fabulous car in addition to the none-less fabulous Maserati.
“I think GT2 has a future. Let’s see how it develops first of all in the European series.”
Yas Island 6 Hours Pilot Race Under Discussion
Ratel said he’s had talks with Driving Force Events director Andrea Ficarelli on the possibility of including a GT2 class in next year’s inaugural Yas Island 6 Hours support race to the Gulf 12 Hours.
While still in preliminary discussions, the concept could help serve as an endurance pilot race for the platform prior to its full integration into IGTC the following year.
“If we can have a full grid of GT3, that would be good and maybe we could propose GT2s to come to the six-hour race,” Ratel said. “That could be a possibility.
“If it grows and there’s enthusiasm, I have to say to propose clients, ‘Let’s go and do something fun in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season’ could be good.
“It could be 12 Hours, it could be the Six hours. Maybe for the first year, six hours would be more reasonable, especially as they’d be the fastest cars, so overall they’d be the dominant force. We’ll try to do that.”