Friday, 5 March 2010

SRO Do Right By GT2 In Postponement

Say what you like about the SRO Motorsports Group and the eponymous Stephane Ratel but their postponement of the GT2 European Championship shows they have GT racing, or at least something more that exposure and bottom line in mind.

The news was confirmed yesterday that the GT2 series, cleaved from its normal GT1 counterpart as the latter is elevated to World Championship status, will have its inaugural stand-alone season postponed. The SRO say nothing of when the series will be revived, but suggested it would be, the official press release suggesting the series would be “relaunched once the future orientation of the GT2 class has been agreed with a minimum of four manufacturers, possibly around the introduction of Hybrid technologies in GT racing.”

That is the root of the right and proper thinking behind the choice. The SRO want GT2 to be worthwhile, whether through the size of the field or by the new technology it introduces (in fact a chance for new technology would probably find itself attracting manufacturers).

It would be very easy for Ratel to cheerfully collect the entry money from a handful of GT2 teams and put them on an embarrassingly small grid that would do nothing but damage the profile of the teams and the series.

The press release adds ““The thundering development of the GT3 category, with 13 models from 12 brands homologated to date and the likely arrival of three additional ones in 2012, offering cars more affordable with performances equal to those of the GT2 category, has forced SRO to redefine its plans for the GT2 category.”

What they have recognised is that the different series are in serious danger of becoming cannibalistic.

With the introduction of the new GT1 World Championship the French Hexis squad-run Aston Martins and the Matech Ford GTs have moved up from GT3 to GT1. Though Hexis have confirmed they will also run a GT3 campaign once more in these days of limited sponsorship, not to mention time (especially given the GT1 calender takes teams all around the world) if this happens too often then at least one series is bound to shrivel and die.

And that’s before you include the pressures from the GT Open series and the GT2 classes of the Le Mans Series – the new home for 2009 GT2 champions AF Corse, while runners-up Prospeed Competition have an entry for Le Mans.

Ratel and company realise that nothing good can come out of trying to shoehorn another series into a market where there are only so many teams, manufacturers, fans and sponsors available.

And that’s a good thing.

While the SRO benefit from being the single entity behind GT1, 2 and 3 series, compare their approach to the web-like mess that is single-seater racing. In Europe we have GP2, Formula 2, and World Series by Renault all vying for the position on the last wrung of the ladder before F1, below that we have the mess of national Formula 3 series, along with the Euroseries, as well as the new GP3 series.

Oh, and the various stages of Formula Renault. And Formula BMW, and Auto GP and Superleague Formula.

The list goes on.

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