Stephane Ratel believes the increasing levels of regulations imposed in his championships have been the reason for SRO Motorsports Group’s success in GT racing worldwide.
His comments come in the wake of Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour organizers electing to reverse plans of implementing Intercontinental GT Challenge-style sporting regulations that include minimum pit stop times, maximum stint lengths and a mandatory technical pit stop, based on competitor feedback.
Ratel has argued that while not always universally supported, certain regulations are used to help level the playing field and ensure competitive and large grids.
“At the end of last year, like I did every year, I go and speak to the teams one by one,” Ratel told Sportscar365.
“Everyone, maybe [except for] Vincent Vosse [WRT team principal] because he never liked it to start with, I think I had two that [didn’t like the minimum pit stop time].
“If you look at it, look at the number of cars we had this year in Spa.
“I think we have to regulate everything but it’s exactly the F1 syndrome. In F1, you have powerful teams that refuse to change the regulations and that goes against the general interest in the field.
“Us at the SRO, we’ve been leveling [the playing field] and that’s the reason of our success because we’ve been [regulating] everything.”
According to Ratel, SRO’s technical pit stop, first introduced at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, has been implemented to prevent an arm’s race between GT3 manufacturers to develop brake packages that could last a full 24-hour race.
“If you don’t do the technical pit stop, manufacturers are going to develop to do the full Spa 24 Hours with one set of discs,” he said. “Then you start the race and some cars have an instant advantage.
“It’s a fact. They would have a two-lap gain for that. So we introduced it for a reason.
“It’s the same thing for the [minimum] pit stop time. One time I remember between WRT and Marc VDS, they were having [fuel] flow engineers and taking the foam out [of the fuel tanks].
“We’ve introduced all of this for a reason. Maybe for the [Bathurst] 12 Hour it’s a bit different.
“But listening to the powerful teams is always a bit risky. We have powerful teams, they moan, but they’re there. If you listen to them, the small teams don’t moan but they move away.
“That’s why I always consider [everything] but in the end we need big grids and you can do that by guaranteeing everyone a chance to do well.”
Ratel said a deviation in the sporting regulations for Bathurst will not be a detriment to the IGTC.
“Intercontinental is not a championship like Blancpain GT World Challenge is,” he said.
“It’s a combination of independent events and therefore I don’t see a big problem if the rules are a bit different here or there.
“We would like, over time, to bring them together. But it’s not essential. It’s nice to have but not a must-have.”
SRO Considered Reverse Calendar for IGTC
Ratel revealed that they considered making the Bathurst 12 Hour the season finale, in order to ensure the same-generation of GT3 machinery compete across the entire IGTC season.
“If we wanted to solve the problem now that all of the cars are in the second half of the season, we could put Bathurst as the last [race] and do a winter series,” he said.
“We discussed it and we believe for manufacturers it’s better to have a title by the end of the [calendar] year.
“If you look in the logic of many manufacturers, you have the motorsport and company parties in the winter to celebrate the championship.
“I think it’s better we keep the traditional format. With that, for the time being, it’s always going to be difficult for the new models.”
Despite ongoing efforts from the FIA and SRO, Ratel indicated that 2020-spec GT3 machinery will not be allowed at Bathurst although has not ruled it out in future years, should the homologation cycles keep getting pushed up.
“What we hope with the FIA is that we’re working on everything to be done earlier, that the homologations would be done in September instead of December and then we could do a BoP [test] in October and be ready for the year after,” he said.