“I have been dreaming about these cars since I was a teenager,” said FIA president Jean Todt at the launch of the new GT1 sports car series. “We have all dreamt about these beautiful cars and I am very proud that the GT1 World Championship has joined Formula 1, the WRC and the WTCC as the fourth championship sanctioned by the FIA.”
Speaking in the splendour of the bibliotheque at the Automobile Club de France in Paris (below), Todt took the opportunity to underline his commitment to safety on both road and track. “The GT1 championship will be a global platform for a campaign to save lives and improve safety on the road, a commitment that is very dear to me,” he said. “The FIA will work with the United Nations to reduce the death toll.”
Stephane Ratel, GT1 promoter, declared that he wanted to restore sports car racing to its former glory. “I want to preserve the heritage, showcase the iconic brands, and give the fans exciting and glamorous racing on some of the world’s most legendary circuits,” he said. “We will have open paddocks, and the FIA’s Balance of Performance system will guarantee a level playing field among the different manufacturers. Sports car racing has huge potential to become more popular around the world.”
Manufacturers signed up to the series include Maserati, Aston Martin, Ford, Nissan, Lamborghini and Corvette. Twelve teams, each with two cars and four drivers, will race in 10 different countries on four continents, with television coverage across 100 countries reaching an estimated 220 million homes. There will be two races, each lasting one hour, and the cars will be in action for a total of five and a half hours at each event. Drivers already signed up include Karl Wendlinger, Andrea Bertolini, Peter Dumbreck, Darren Turner and Bas Leinders.
When the series comes to Silverstone in May the coveted Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy, first introduced at the TT meeting on the Isle of Man in 1905, will be awarded to the winning drivers. Rob Widdows