Stephane Ratel says that SRO Motorsports Group plans to use its new Fanatec GT Rebellion Series as a way of re-introducing amateur driver lineups into the headline Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.
GT Rebellion was revealed last year as part of an updated structure for SRO’s GT Sports Club, which is the umbrella term for its set of series aimed at non-professional drivers.
The championship, which is reserved for Bronze-rated drivers, is due to stage its first three-hour race at Hockenheim on May 14-15.
Its sister competition, the Fanatec GT2 European Series, started at Monza last weekend.
Ratel told Sportscar365 at Monza that he intends to use the GT Rebellion Series as a means to rebuild participation in the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup amateur class following the evaporation of entries over the last couple of years.
While the 2019 Endurance Cup featured a varied Am Cup field, no cars completed the full campaign last season. A CMR Bentley Continental GT3 entered three of the four races and subsequently won the class title. No Am Cup vehicles are signed up to race in 2021.
“I see the Rebellion series as a potential Rebellion class in this [Endurance Cup] championship,” said Ratel.
“We need Ams. I started with the Gentleman Driver Trophy and the magic of this was that we always had a mix of Ams.
“But it started diminishing, diminishing, diminishing, and I think we can recreate it. So we do something independent and then we will see.”
Ratel reckons next month’s inaugural Fanatec GT Rebellion Series meeting at Hockenheim will attract at least a dozen cars. An entry list has yet to be published.
The series is launching amid challenging circumstances as travel restrictions and other coronavirus-related social measures remove the leisure aspects of race meetings that normally attract amateur competitors.
Ratel suggested back in January that non-professional drivers will postpone their racing plans if restrictions this year mean a race generates “more hassle than it brings pleasure”.
“I am trying to put a grid together for Hockenheim but it’s not easy these days, especially for non-professional drivers,” he said. “But we think we’ll have a grid. We want to do it.
“Whether we’ll have 12 cars, 14 cars, 16 cars, I don’t know. But I think we should have a minimum of 12.
“It’s really to restart the group of Ams because we don’t have an Am class anymore [in GTWC Europe]. So it’s very important that this Rebellion class becomes the new Am class.”
Ratel is confident that amateur driver participation in SRO’s European GT3 structure can be rejuvenated through the establishment of a new series.
If that happens, the next challenge will likely be to ensure that enough of those Ams are willing to join the Endurance Cup, rather than ending up with a split between those who want to join and those who want to remain in their own dedicated series.
Several amateur and Bronze-rated drivers still compete in Endurance Cup.
Pro-Am continues to be a well-represented category with car counts matching the Silver Cup class. A total of 13 Pro-Am entries attended last weekend’s 3 Hours of Monza.
“They went away because it drifted,” said Ratel. “They went away because there was no competition. If you can secure 12 Am cars and bring them there, then they will be happy.
“And then you guarantee a certain number and reduce the number of Pros. So you can say that class will have about this number, and then you are secure.
“They left because it went 12, 10, eight, six, four, two. If it’s one car you go and race somewhere else because you have no competition.
“So if you can guarantee that you have 10 or 12 cars, boom. You go. It’s why we did endurance, three hours [in GT Rebellion].
“It’s a work in progress, all of this. GT Rebellion and GT2 are investments for the future. At SRO we always invest.”