Too Restrictive?
Mark Howson, one of our British GT contributors, let slip at Le Mans that he missed the chance to read regular editorials during the racing season. Quite right Mark – but it has been particularly fraught recently.

But as June (another frantic month) rolls round into July, here are some thoughts relating to the last fortnight or so of last month.

Our sympathies go out to anyone who was involved at Le Mans, and was then preparing cars for the following weekend – or rushing them back to North America to prepare them for Lime Rock. The last weekend in June saw dsc’s contributors covering British GTs, FIA GTs, Belcar, Britsports, Spanish GTs and French GTs. Probably not a good weekend for those who had been spectating at Le Mans to ask for another ‘weekend pass’, although Goodwood seems to pull in the numbers. Perhaps a different crowd?

But such a busy weekend was at least an opportunity to compare some of the different European series.

GT2 in the FIA GT Championship is in a bit of a dilemma, isn’t it? The GruppeM Porsches are far and away the best-equipped in the class – and they’re driven by four professionals. They repeatedly run away with the races, and will continue to do so until a rival team presents the same kind of equipment / drivers.

Is there a solution though? Looking at GT1, the rules have been ‘tweaked’ to allow the Maseratis to enter the championship: they’ve been given restrictions so that they can compete against the opposition. Couldn’t the same thought process, in reverse, be applied to GT2. What about larger restrictors for the Renauer and Vonka Porsches? And perhaps the G2 Balfe Mosler? Why do the regulations have to be so restrictive?

Similarly in British GTs, the Ferraris are a second a lap quicker than the opposition: why couldn’t the opposition be given slightly larger restrictors?

Hang on though – that would be unfair… on the teams that have spent the money to develop their cars to the fullest extent. Surely rules are rules, and everyone should compete on the same, level playing field? Or in the case of Indianapolis, the same banked corner. ‘We can’t build a temporary chicane because it would be unfair on the teams that arrived with suitable tyres’. The entertainment factor was conveniently ignored, at the expense of 120,000 fans who’d come to see 20 cars race: they got six.

So ‘rules are rules’ - or should be a greater freedom be introduced, to permit a better quality of racing? The FIA GT Championship seems to allow Maseratis in, on the one hand, but on the other, there’s no suggestion that of helping GT2 entrants to compete against the big boys. But there has been an adjustment of the regulations to allow the Saleens to be more competitive.

Perhaps it’s asking a bit much though, for some Porsches to be treated differently from others. Is this top level racing or not?

There’s an interesting comparison with GT2 at Le Mans – and GT2 in the LMES. Same regulations, very different results. Le Mans is more like the FIA Championship (but at least with the win contested by Porsches from different teams), while GT2 in the LMES has seen the most open racing imaginable, in all five events so far. Discuss.

In terms of freedom, Belcar seems to offer teams the greatest opportunity to ‘do their own thing’. A well driven 911 bi-turbo can almost compete with the Viper(s) and Corvette, with the right drivers, while haring along near the front of the field at Brands Hatch on June 26 was – a highly developed Marcos Mantis! It was running in the top six for the first hour, and great fun to watch it was too.

Belcar doesn’t offer an entirely free hand though: promoter Marc Martens made the point that the regulations are fixed for three years. Of course a significant factor in GT racing is the relative pace of individual drivers, and Belcar saw cars slip down the order as their owners took their turn.

I’m not suggesting that a Mantis should be running near the front of the FIA GT Championship, but think of the likes of Wolfgang Kaufmann in FIA GTs: if he could be given a chance to qualify on the tails of the top Porsches, the opening phases of the races could be much more entertaining – and the smaller teams would be encouraged to compete, rather than simply hoping to make that third podium spot.

The argument seems to be a simple one: should rules be adjusted so that less competitive cars are made more competitive? Clearly they shouldn’t in Formula 1, but there are surely enough examples of rules being adjusted to indicate that, where necessary, changes could be made – to improve the racing (without teams spending a fortune that they haven’t got).
Malcolm Cracknell


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