Like your correspondent Mr A Lewis (Motor Sport, February 1988) I follow Grand Prix racing avidly, and at times simply marvel at what he terms “the ultimate in racing technology”. The recent turbo era has been one of the most exciting periods Grand Prix racing has ever witnessed, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have been able to enjoy it.
However, Grand Prix racing has increasingly become brief, intense conflict, lasting little more than an hour and a quarter at some circuits, whilst endurance racing, which (for want of a better description) sports-car racing was, has always been a far more complex affair.
Driver pairings, team tactics and a good overall strategy all play an important part in the endurance game. Time lost early on can be regained towards the end of a race if the correct tactics are deployed; then again, a race can develop into a flat-out blind, not surprisingly leading to a war of attrition. With so many variables, and a minimum distance of 624 miles (1000km), clearly much can influence the outcome. It is for all these reasons I find sports-car racing so appealing.
The formula as it stands, whilst not without problems, clearly works, spectators having been treated to fast, exciting racing over a decent distance. Indeed, the re-emergence and popularity of sports-car racing as a complement to Grand Prix racing did not seem far away. This success, of course, has not escaped the attention of the sport’s governing body, which is now once more about to drive out major manufacturers with yet another inept decision.
Little foresight is required to see that a 3.5-litre category as applied to sports-prototypes is destined to failure, for the very same reasons the 3-litre formula did in 1972. Much has been written to this effect recently and need not be repeated. But like Mr Lewis I’ve enjoyed watching 6-litre Mercedes, 7-litre jaguars and all those Porsches. Some races have been quite superb, better even than those of two decades ago. For all these reasons, I am appalled at the way this sport can be manipulated by a few unimaginative and apparently naive people who meet occasionally in Paris. Which brings me to your “Supercar GT” category.
Having read carefully your proposals, I must agree that it would probably provide some pretty spectacular racing, although I don’t go along with your minimum distance. Any sports-car race worth its title must surely run at least 500 miles, not kilometres. However this is just a mere detail. What I really want to know is how on earth you propose to get a totally new formula, no matter how well received, accepted by FISA, when the combined efforts of Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche, Toyota, Nissan and many influential individuals failed to alter its position over the 3.5-litre ruling?
DR Wharf, East Claydon, Buckingham