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Ratel: Indy 8H “Impossible” to Move Amid IMSA Clash

SRO in “ongoing conversation” with IMSA regarding Indianapolis/Watkins Glen enduro clash…

Photo: Walt Kuhn/IndyCar

SRO boss Stephane Ratel says that the date of the Indianapolis 8 Hour cannot change but he hopes that the event’s clash with a major IMSA round “can be resolved.”

IMSA announced its updated 2020 calendar last month, which included the postponement of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen from late June to Oct. 1-4.

This put the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship enduro on the same weekend as the inaugural Indianapolis 8H, which forms part of SRO’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and GT World Challenge America powered by AWS competitions.

Date clashes between major sports car championships have almost become an inevitability as organizing bodies attempt to fit their rearranged seasons into the second half of the year, off the back of the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ratel told Sportscar365 that SRO is in discussions with IMSA about the October clash, which is likely to impact teams on each organization’s GT3, GT4 and TC grids.

“We would very much hope that this situation can be resolved,” he said.

“There is an ongoing conversation with IMSA. If it can be resolved it would be for the benefit of everybody involved because we have a big number of teams and drivers who are committed to both events, but if it can’t be resolved then we will be running [with a clash].

“Of course, that means we will be losing cars, and we will probably be losing cars on both sides, which is not ideal. But if that’s the way it is, then that’s the way it is.”

Ratel explained that moving the Indy 8H race is not an option because the IGTC is sharing its October weekend bill with the NTT IndyCar Series.

It is also bound by the rescheduled date for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which is due to take place just three weeks after the IGTC’s American round.

“With the transport time of the cars before the next event, coming back to Europe, we were short of options because then the cars need to be at Spa,” said Ratel.

“We have very little time and we certainly don’t want to push teams into air freight, so it’s very close.

“We can’t reschedule it, clearly it’s impossible. If we could have, we would have. But unfortunately, because it’s with IndyCar and because Spa is three weeks later, it’s not possible.”

Ratel also ruled out rescheduling the Pirelli GT4 America element of the IGTC/IndyCar weekend, to mitigate some of the impacts of the clash with IMSA.

Beyond the endurance races falling on the same weekend, SRO’s GT4 America and TC America series and IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge, which includes GT4 and TCR, are involved in the tie-up.

“It’s an event, so we’re not going to organize another event at Indianapolis only for GT4,” said Ratel. “It wouldn’t make promotional and financial sense. We need to be all together like we always are.”

Optimism About Securing International Entries

Ratel said that the American arm of SRO Motorsports Group has already started looking at how to secure the passage of IGTC teams into the U.S for the Indianapolis race.

The main problem for all of SRO’s international series is the uncertainty about whether race teams and other paddock personnel will be able to cross borders.

Several countries have started to lift their own restrictions that were put in place to manage the coronavirus pandemic, paving the way for national racing to restart.

However, the return of international motorsport poses a greater challenge in terms of customs and logistics.

“From the latest I’ve read, IMSA has worked an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to allow for teams and international staff to travel to the U.S for racing,” said Ratel.

“This is for July, so I am hopeful that we won’t have a problem with that in October.

“I think we are in the same situation as IMSA so I would guess the same rule applies for us as well.”

Ratel also noted that generally, SRO has successfully avoided clashes between its own championships and other competitions, especially in Europe.

“We managed to it in Europe, quite amazingly, working hand in hand with the ADAC and with our own championships,” he said.

“In the limited time we have had, we have managed to have GT World Challenge Europe, ADAC GT Masters, British GT and French GT without a single clash between the European series and all the national series.

“But that requires a lot of coordination and work, and also making efforts on both sides. So it’s feasible, but it’s not easy.”

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

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