GT3 LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD
While North America’s TUDOR United
SportsCar Championship GT Daytona
class (see page 48) and the European-based, Stephane Ratel-helmed Blancpain
Endurance Series (LEFT) and Sprint
Series are the poster children for the
rise of GT3, the global reach of the
category is astonishing, and still growing.
In Europe, a number of national GT
series are now thriving thanks to the
(relatively) low cost of GT3 machinery.
Germany’s eight-round ADAC GT Masters
(ABOVE) puts 25-plus GT3 cars on the
grid, with drivers such as Corvette Racing’s
Oliver Gavin and ex-Toro Rosso F1 racer
Jaime Alguersuari among the series
regulars. Many of the same teams, cars
and drivers compete in the Nurburgring-Nordschleife-based VLN Endurance
Championship and the wildly-popular
24 Hours of the Nurburgring.
For years, the British GT Championship
was little more than a low-key, club-level
series, but promotion by Ratel’s SRO
Motorsports Group has lured in 20-plus
GT3s in a close to 40-car field (GT4 cars
making up the the rest) and transformed
it into a domestic powerhouse.
Other European-based series are
seeing the GT3 effect, too. Globally,
Japan’s Super GT Championship
(where GT3 is the core of the second-tier
GT300 class, sharing the track with
DTM-style GT500 exotica from Honda,
Lexus and Nissan), GT Asia and Australian
GT are all experiencing significant
growth and, of course, GT3 provides
the bulk of the GT class entry in the
Pirelli World Challenge (see page 32).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Aston Martin’s
Vantage GT3 (ABOVE) is the most
prevalent car in the British GT3 field.
GT3 AROUND THE WORLD
makers would first set a target level of
performance and then vet the specs
submitted by the manufacturers, or what
Ratel calls “specialist tuners,” such as
Lamborghini builder Reiter Engineering in
Germany. Once the approved car was
homologated, the rule makers would then
tweak performance whenever they saw fit
in order to maintain a level playing field.
It’s not a new philosophy, of course. It’s
similar to the system employed for years
in the Pirelli World Challenge GT series.
But it truly hit the mark in Europe and
has now expanded all over the world.
The secret to its success is its
inclusiveness. The no-rules category allows
anyone with anything vaguely resembling
a sports car to come and play. Artificial?
Probably. Successful? Undoubtedly. Last
year, Reiter sold its 100th Lamborghini
Gallardo and is now also offering a
cut-price Chevy Camaro, a car that really
has no right to be racing on equal terms
against the V10 Lambo. But allowing it a
bigger engine and wider tires has made
it competitive. That philosophy has
resulted in a total of 18 marques being
represented in GT3 since its inception.
It’s also inclusive because it is cheap, or
cheaper than other forms of GT racing.
Which explains the category’s global
expansion: there are major series running
or open to GT3 cars on five continents. And
the total number of cars built since 2006?
So large is the number that no one knows
for sure, but consensus is that it’s currently
somewhere around the 1,000-car mark.
Reiter Engineering has sold more than 100
GT3 Lamborghini Gallardos since 2007. The
car’s 2014 wins include the Pirelli World
Challenge opener in St. Petersburg (ABOVE).
The Blancpain Endurance Series (ABOVE) was
joined by a Sprint Series (previously run as the
FIA GT Series) in 2014. Each crowns its own
champion, with a combined Blancpain GT Series
title also up for grabs. Centerpiece of the
Blancpain GT Series is the Spa 24 Hours enduro.