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Ratel Wants Endurance Racing in FIA Motorsport Games

FIA Motorsport Games promoter Ratel sets out long-term vision for inter-nation competition…

Photo: Kevin Pecks

Endurance racing could appear in future editions of the FIA Motorsport Games, according to Stephane Ratel whose SRO Motorsports Group promotes the nation-based event.

Ratel suggested to reporters during last weekend’s inaugural running of the Games at Vallelunga that long-distance races could join rallying, historics and other disciplines as part of an ambitious long-term expansion plan.

He stressed the importance of bringing other promoters on board to organize the different events, including the ACO, which is responsible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“My idea is to go to the maximum number of categories that I can,” said Ratel.

“We can’t have the Motorsport Games without long-distance racing, so we need to have endurance. We need to find something with the ACO.

“What is very important is that it’s not an SRO one-company show. We not only need nations competing together, but we also need promoters.

“I would like ETRA to do the trucks, Peter Auto to do the historics and ACO to do endurance. Whoever wants to join can join.

“First, we need to bring it to a certain level… you can’t have the Motorsport Games without endurance racing and rallying, because they are the pillars of motorsport.

“Once you have these pillars you can build it.”

Ratel praised the involvement of sub-promoters who helped to collate strong car counts for the inaugural Games, which built on last year’s FIA GT Nations Cup to house six disciplines.

The 2019 event was announced in June but Ratel admitted that some of the grids came together at very short notice.

For example, the FIA took over the organization of the Drifting Cup after SRO’s talks to strike a deal with the European and American regional sanctioning bodies fell through.

Marcello Lotti and TCR assembled the Touring Car Cup grid, while Paul Ip’s KCMG concern built a full grid of hybrid-powered Formula 4 cars specifically for the Games.

“It’s been a bit complicated to finalize all the agreements with the FIA before we finally managed,” said Ratel, “And it was so late when we managed in June to finalize the plan – we had discussed it in Bahrain [last November] until June.

“I really thought at that point – forget it. It’s too late and we can’t take the risk if we have Jean Todt here at an event that is not complete, and we have eight TCR cars and ten Formula 4s.

“We managed to do this little presentation at Spa [24 Hours], but we really started working in September. But Frederic Bertrand from the FIA [in charge of circuits] said, ‘no, it’s our window of opportunity we do it now.’

“I have to say that it has worked really nicely, a really great team working closely together, and we dealt with it.

“We had 20 F4, 20 Touring Cars, 22 Drift cars and 22 GTs. Beautiful.”

Games Unlikely to Happen Every Year

Ratel suggested that the FIA Motorsport Games are unlikely to take place every year in a bid to make the event “something very special”.

SRO’s plan is to build up the concept with another running next year – most likely at Paul Ricard – followed by more sporadic editions in an Olympic-style approach.

“We do all this work to do it big,” said Ratel, who also dismissed a four-year gap between games as too long a stretch.

“If we do it every year, it will lose its [uniqueness]. It can’t become like [the GT World Cup in] Macau. With all the respect to Macau, it is a great event, but we need to be even more special, something really exceptional. But we can’t waste time.

“What we’re doing is like a ramp to prove the point [that the concept works].

“We did Bahrain with one category, Rome with six, and I hope next year will be proving it entirely. From there, we will see how to structure it.

“We will not do it every year. It will be something very special.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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