Touring cars are great to watch for a number of reasons. Mostly notably the racing is extremely close and you’ll see cars passing each other in places that you never thought possible. Another draw, for me anyway, has always been that you can clearly see that they carry some DNA from their road-car equivalents.
Let’s ignore the silhouette racers in Germany’s DTM for the moment, and the fact that underneath the shells of WTCC and BTCC cars very few have anything resembling what you’d find on your mother’s SEAT. What’s important is that these cars look like something you could go and buy in a showroom the next day. ‘Race on Sunday, sell on Monday’, as they say.
You can imagine my excitement then at the fast-approaching new FIA GT1 World Championship. Ford GT40s, Lamborghini Murciélagos, Corvettes, DBR9s, MC12s and GT-Rs on tracks such as Spa, Interlagos, Silverstone and the Nürburgring. Oh, how the mouth waters… As the promoter of GT racing Stephane Ratel points out, “they are truly inspirational cars – the ones everyone dreams of owning”.
The series, the fourth FIA-sanctioned World Championship after Formula 1, WTCC, WRC and Formula 2, has 10 events on four continents with 24 cars expected to grace each grid. Twelve teams will run two cars each with the same livery and each race will be a one-hour affair or, as the video below suggests, a one-hour long cacophony of engine noise. The European-based FIA GT2 and GT3 championships will also support the events with their own races.
“We have shaped the new championship with the aim of making GT racing more fan and media friendly,” Ratel continues. “Before, the racing consisted of long-distance racing, a mix of GT-spec cars in the same race, teams competing with a number of different cars – it was all very confusing to follow. It takes time for any sports series to become well established but GT racing will take a major step forward in becoming one of the major World Championships in 2010.”
Ratel (above) is certainly the right man for the job when it comes to making a success of a GT1 championship. Let’s hope it is exactly that, as these cars will be great to watch. The season kicks off on April 17 in Abu Dhabi – a date for the diary, I would have thought…