ROB LAD­BROOK

“Would los­ing GT3 be a to­tal dis­as­ter?”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

So it’s come to this, but is it time to panic? Not quite.

Yes, the Bri­tish GT3 grid may only be barely reach­ing dou­ble fig­ures for the next round at Snet­ter­ton, but is that such a catas­tro­phe? Is it a sign that GT3 rac­ing in Bri­tain is slowly dy­ing?

There are ar­gu­ments both ways as to what the fu­ture holds for GT3 at Bri­tish cham­pi­onship level. But let’s not go jump­ing to con­clu­sions. Beechdean is out due to cir­cum­stances be­yond its con­trol – a nasty hit at Spa saw to that – and Op­ti­mum is on the brink purely be­cause its sea­son hasn’t quite gone to plan. Nei­ther of those fac­tors have bear­ing on ei­ther team’s thoughts on the cham­pi­onship. Both are staunch sup­port­ers of Bri­tish GT, and be­lieve that if you want to race sportscars, the se­ries is one of the high­est lev­els in Europe.

They’ll be back, of that I have lit­tle doubt, but the fact their ab­sence is quite so keenly felt does raise some other is­sues.

I love GT3, but you can see dif­fi­cul­ties in its fu­ture. Bud­gets have sky­rock­eted in re­cent years due to the level of com­pe­ti­tion and pro­file be­ing raised. Teams now em­ploy more peo­ple, do more test­ing and use more con­sum­ables. All of which just adds to the fi­nan­cial fore­cast.

There could come a time when Bri­tish GT can no longer sus­tain GT3. The signs are al­ready there with the shift in in­ter­est to the lower-cost GT4 cat­e­gory, which is now the most popular in terms of en­tries.

The teams have seen this too, and have elected a teams’ as­so­ci­a­tion in an ef­fort to try and lure back GT3 num­bers. It’s a good move and shows sol­i­dar­ity, but can it prove the dif­fer­ence?

Plus, would it be such a drama if GT3 were to be phased out of Bri­tish GT al­to­gether?

Yes the cars are spec­tac­u­lar, but let’s not for­get when GT3 was in­tro­duced it played sec­ond fid­dle to GT2. How many of us can hon­estly say the cur­rent crop of GT3 cars raises the hairs on the back of your neck quite like the TVR Speed 12, Lis­ter Storm or Dodge Viper GTS did?

But GT2 died out over cost, and then GT3 reigned supreme. Could we be see­ing the same cy­cling of classes now, with GT4 the nat­u­ral successor?

Don’t be so fast to judge. Look at the new crop of GT4S. Mclaren 570S GT4 wouldn’t be far off GT3 pace with­out its re­stric­tors, Porsche’s Cay­man GT4 will be a weapon when it’s fi­nally a full-fat GT4 car and Audi and Mercedes are both known to be eye­ing new cus­tomer cars for the cat­e­gory.

If GT3 fades away, GT4 will take cen­tre stage, and is that such a bad thing? GT rac­ing is about drama on one hand, but it’s also about great rac­ing, and GT4 has that. For­mula Ford 1600s don’t breathe fire but pro­duce su­perb rac­ing, so re­tain pop­u­lar­ity.

Once again, I truly hope GT3 rac­ing in Bri­tain sur­vives and thrives. But it’s not the end of the Bri­tish GT if it doesn’t.

Be­fore GT3 we had mon­strous TVRS, like Speed 12

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