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Spa Press Conference Roundup

More news from Friday’s SRO press conference, including schedules and future plans…

Photo: JEP/SRO

Stability in 2020 British GT Schedule

The British GT Championship will have a largely unchanged schedule next year, with the only major change coming in a later date for the Brands Hatch round.

The penultimate round of the season, a single two-hour race, will be held at Brands Hatch on the weekend of Aug. 29-30, moving back from its traditional early August date, often the weekend after the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

Oulton Park will host the traditional opener on Easter Monday with a pair of one-hour races on April 13.

The remaining rounds at Snetterton, Silverstone, Spa, and two events at Donington Park, will take place on the same weekends as this year.

Oulton Park and Snetterton, the first two events of the year, will each host a pair of one-hour sprints, while Silverstone is the usual single three-hour race. The remaining four rounds will all be a single two-hour race.

Combined GT3 and GT4 grids will continue.

SCHEDULE: British GT Championship

Photo: SRO

Reshuffled Calendar for GT4 European Series

The GT4 European Series will visit several different tracks next year, although remaining as a support to the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe at every round.

Silverstone, Spa and Budapest have been added to the schedule at the expense of Monza, Brands Hatch and Misano.

The season will kick off at Silverstone on May 9-10 while concluding at the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint round at Budapest on Sept. 25-27.

The Spa round, meanwhile, will take place as a support to the Total 24 Hours of Spa instead of during the SRO Speedweek. FFSA GT4 France is the only GT4 support at Spa this year.

FFSA GT4 France will hold rounds at Nogaro, Pau, Ledenon, Spa, Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard, meanwhile, with the Spa round moving to the Speedweek on July 17-19.

SCHEDULE: GT4 European Series
SCHEDULE: FFSA GT4 France

Photo: Porsche

GT1 Sports Club Project Launched

Ratel also announced the launch of a GT1 Sports Club, adding to the existing GT2, GT3 and GT4 platforms. 

The new GT1 class will be exclusively focused on gentlemen drivers, featuring high-performance cars such as the Porsche 935 (pictured above), Brabham BT62, McLaren GTR and Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Two rounds will be held in 2020, supporting the FFSA GT4 France finale at Paul Ricard on Oct. 3-4 and the Kyalami 8 Hours on Nov. 20-22. If successful, the calendar will expand to four races in 2021.

Event formats are still undecided and will be confirmed after consultation with competitors, who will be able to decide in what way they wish to race their cars.

“It’s a club,” Ratel explained. “It’s to try to get these owners together and say: you all have bought these cars, some of you just want to put them, it’s like, in a bank account.

“Fine, it’s an investment. Some others, you want to use them, so let’s do something.

“We will discuss with them if they prefer we start with timed practice.

“There will be some form of competition, either timed practice or racing but really gentleman racing to have the fun of using these cars, not to prove you are the best in the world.”

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

News & Notes

***Further details on many of today’s announcements will come at the European Blancpain GT Series finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sept. 27-29, as well as the launch of a third GT2 car. Ratel says he’s in advanced conversations with three further brands, expecting a total of six models to be launched by the end of 2020.

***Blancpain logos and names were noticeably absent from today’s presentation. Ratel confirmed that the luxury watch brand has not yet been confirmed as the entitlement sponsor for World Challenge next year, amid speculation it won’t return to SRO next year. Championship names for next year’s announcements didn’t include Blancpain, such as GT World Challenge Europe and GT Sports Club.

“It’s not confirmed,” Ratel told Sportscar365 about the future of Blancpain as the title sponsor. “We’ve had ten years, so we’ll discuss. We will announce everything in Barcelona.”

***Ratel said that double points will be awarded for Blancpain GT World Challenge America competitors in the Indianapolis round, in what’s part of a multi-year agreement with IMS for the event. Points for the three-hour Shanghai 888 race, which will similarly form part of the GT World Challenge Asia schedule, are still yet to be decided, according to an SRO spokesperson.

***Last year’s SIC 888 race, run independent to SRO competition, ran to 888 kms, and marked the longest-distance endurance race in China’s history.

***The timing of the Indianapolis race has back-loaded the IGTC schedule, with four of the five rounds held over a four-month period from July to November, although Ratel said it will still enable teams to utilize sea-freight for all of the rounds except Suzuka, as is the case today.

***Ratel has essentially ruled out a sixth IGTC round in the future, stating that “five is enough” in reference to the possibility of racing in South America. 

***Details on the integration of the current Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup into GT World Challenge, including the points structure, are still being worked out, according to Ratel, although he confirmed there will still be a drivers and teams’ title for the overall European champions (encompassing Sprint and Endurance). 

***The manufacturers’ championship will remain the centerpiece in World Challenge, with Ratel expecting an uptick of involvement beyond this year’s two-horse race between Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari. 

***SRO has 2,628 cars entered across all of its events this year. Its average number of GT3 cars per event is 25, with and average of 29 GT4 entries. It is organizing 97 rounds as part of 13 series and 53 race weekends across 25 countries.

***Viewership is up 212 percent year-to-year, which Ratel credited to the GT World Challenge branding bundle, which has allowed TV networks to pick up all three continental series together in an attractive 18-race global package. Dedicated TV programming has received 78 million views worldwide.

***An estimated 17-21 cars are set for November’s FIA GT World Cup at Macau, up from last year’s low of 15, which was caused by a series of serious crashes in previous years turning manufacturers away from the street circuit event. A Silver Cup will also be introduced, as initially reported by Sportscar365.

***Around 30 cars are likely to take part in the inaugural running of the relaunched Kyalami 9 Hours, along with eight additional local entries. The race will have live TV and radio coverage throughout South Africa.

***Ratel drove in the last SRO race in South Africa, the 2000 Lamborghini Sportstrophy event.

***A European GT4 finale is being worked on for 2020, possibly to be held at Imola. It would effectively replace the GT4 International Cup, a standalone race held in support of the FIA GT Nations Cup at Bahrain last year. A similar GT4 finale isn’t being held this year.

***Combining its GT World Challenge events in Europe, North America and Asia with the five IGTC rounds, the SRO now has 26 non-clashing events across the globe from its main GT3 series.

***Circuit Paul Ricard has been proposed as a venue for an extended second edition of the FIA Motorsport Games in 2020. Details of the inaugural edition, to be held at Vallelunga on Oct. 31 – Nov. 3 this year, were released on Thursday. 

***The event is planned to continuously expand each year, with a target for 2021’s edition to last ten days and include almost a dozen categories of car racing, along with additional classes such as superbikes, motocross, powerboats and trucks.

***SRO will run a second themed rally event after a successful debut with Le Vendome 80, a 1980s-theme rally from Paris to Vendome, in June. Next year, a 1990s theme will be used for Le St Tropez 90, a rally from Hotel de Paris in Monaco along the French Riviera to Saint-Tropez. Entrants are encouraged to “fully embrace” the fashion of the decade for the event.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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