ROB LAD­BROOK

“SRO has plans – don’t write off GT3 yet”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Will it? Won’t it? Does any­body even care any­more?

Those ques­tions will be hang­ing over the fu­ture of GT3 rac­ing in Bri­tain over the win­ter. The sim­ple an­swer is: yes it will, and yes peo­ple do.

The rise of GT4 rac­ing in Bri­tish GT has left a shadow over the GT3 divi­sion. It’s no se­cret that the class has strug­gled this year, with num­bers fall­ing into the low teens, al­most half the num­bers we en­joyed in re­cent sea­sons.

The GT4 en­try has over­taken it purely by means of cost. A sea­son in GT4 can be done for un­der £100,000, mak­ing it just un­der half of the cost of a head­line GT3 cam­paign.

Then there’s the is­sue of where that £250,000 plus to do GT3 ac­tu­ally comes from.

Usu­ally it’s the well-funded gen­tle­man driv­ers that foot the bill, pay­ing the team and their pro­fes­sional driver, with­out whom they surely wouldn’t stand a chance of win­ning.

That’s a se­ri­ously ex­pen­sive year of rac­ing, and has hurt the ap­peal of GT3 in Bri­tain, es­pe­cially for the rea­son­ably funded gents with a GT3 in the garage that the class for­merly thrived upon. They look in and see in­ter­na­tional and world-class driv­ers in seats and big bud­gets fly­ing around and choose to race else­where.

Therein lies the prob­lem. But therein also lies the so­lu­tion to it.

Series or­gan­iser SRO is hard at work on new plans to help open GT3 up again, to be able to in­clude those driv­ers who feel ill-equipped or even inad­e­quate in the grand scheme of things.

The first step of re­cov­ery is recog­ni­tion. SRO knows there’s an is­sue. It’s not blindly ig­nor­ing the signs and sit­ting back wait­ing for the phone to ring and things to get bet­ter.

Work is al­ready well un­der­way to re­ju­ve­nate GT3, with 15 cars the min­i­mum tar­get for next year. Speak to any top GT3 team and you’ll get an air of op­ti­mism about the 2017 cam­paign, not a pre-empted eu­logy.

Af­ter every Bri­tish GT round this year I’ve seen so­cial me­dia chat­ter from peo­ple say­ing GT3 is dead in Bri­tain, that it’s ‘in­evitable’ Bri­tish GT will be all-gt4 as early as next year.

Will GT3 die? Yes, prob­a­bly – much like GT1 did, and GT2 did, and mul­ti­ple other forms of sportscar rac­ing did be­fore those. But they all laid foun­da­tions and evolved into what we have at the mo­ment. GT4 could well be­come the new topflight Bri­tish class, but it won’t be a step change like some pre­dict.

GT3 isn’t dead in Europe, far from it, so there­fore there will al­ways be a de­sire to race those cars do­mes­ti­cally also. Man­u­fac­tur­ers will con­tinue to sell GT3 cars, and peo­ple will buy them and want to race at a level they feel com­fort­able.

Pro-am rac­ing has proven in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar for Bri­tish GT, but when that prices it­self out there are al­ter­na­tives. SRO know that, and so do the teams, and it’s good to see ev­ery­body pulling to­gether. Bri­tish GT has the pres­tige and ap­peal to draw teams and cars back in, should the right struc­ture be found.

GT3 isn’t dead in Bri­tain just yet.

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