Stephane Ratel – His Vision For British GTs

Stephane Ratel may have provoked a good many people in the last few days, but he is prepared to stand up and be counted. Here he expresses his views on the future of the British GT Championship. You may not like what he says, but he says it very convincingly…. It’s a philosophy, and here it is, as expressed to dailysportscar this evening.

dsc: How many GT cars do you expect to see running next year?

SR: I have no idea. I have only just started to look at the regulations, and there is a lot more work to be done. There may be three GT cars, then perhaps four the next year, then maybe seven the year after.

dsc: Why do you need to include the GT cars in Britain?

SR: I believe GT racing should be taken as a whole, not cut in half, excluding the GT cars. People were pushing me to exclude the bigger cars in France two years ago, but now look at the number of GT cars were have now – about 18.

It’s not a good idea to forbid the top cars. I remember the British GT Championship when you had two or three 911 GT1s and two or three McLarens.

GT racing is an international product. Why should Britain be any different? There is no reason for it to be different. I am sticking to it (including the GT cars).

I am confident I have a product – in France for example – that works. We can build a championship, but still allow the drivers to work at their regular jobs five days each week, but still get plenty of track time. We will have a full, packed weekend.

dsc: What plans do you have for the Cup Class?

SR: I need to make it clear that FIA GT regulations are understood everywhere. They are well defined regulations, put together by talented people. So we have homolgation rules that are tough – but they can be eased back to help manufacturers whose cars aren’t homologated for FIA GT races.

Regarding the Cup cars, I will stick to what exists now, apart from not allowing the cars such as a Clio and a Golf. They are not GT cars.

dsc: How will the race format work at each meeting?

SR: We will have the same two hour, two race format that we have in France.

dsc: What would you say to the entrants who thought they were going to run at the head of the field in 2004, but now find that they will be racing for class victories?

I am sure the GTO entrants love to race for overall wins, but there were only 20 cars: the format elsewhere is better. Maybe ten of the 20 entrants are not happy, but we will build a better GT Championship.

We shouldn’t look at what we have today, but where we’re going. It’s not a one year thing.

The Italians are taking exactly the same format.

dsc: No long distance races for the British GT teams though. Why is that?

SR: If they want to do long distance races, I have the perfect choices: they can do the LMES races over 1000 kilometres or the FIA GT races over three hours.

dsc: No Spa 1000 Km on the 2004 schedule?

SR: Unfortunately the Spa 1000 Km is an LMES race next year, and many of the British cars will not be eligible for ACO rules. This is the situation next year. The British GTs did very well at Spa, but forget being at Spa for next year. That is an ACO race.

dsc: So how else would you justify the three class system to those racing in what has been the top class in 2003?

SR: Look at Le Mans: why are people running in the LM-GT class? The history of GT racing shows us that there is always a class structure. In FIA GTs, there is a two class structure, and it is presented as two different championships. Everyone knows that Freisinger won the N-GT class.

We will present the three class system in exactly the same way. If we followed the philosophy of no GT (Viper class) cars, there would be no LM-GT class at Le Mans.

If teams want to race at the front, they can buy a Viper very reasonably, and they can race it for the cost of a Porsche.

Many things still need to be finalised, and we will have the official launch in December. We have no clashing dates with the FIA GT Championship, and at worst we will have maybe one clash with the LMES.

I am working on a joint race meeting with the LMES at Silverstone: the British GTs will race on Saturday and Sunday, and the LMES race will be on Saturday evening.

We are going to do things for the Championship, and ultimately we will have a very good championship – perhaps it won’t make it in year 1, but in year two or year three…. I am very confident that it will be very good.

This is the British GT Championship, and it should be a top class Championship.


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