The FIA GT Commission has proposed harmonizing the FIA GT1 World and FIA GT3 European Championship's regulations as well as their calendars in Europe, "to guarantee the growth of the FIA GT sprint platform," according to the SRO, which manages the category for the FIA.
With so many GT3 cars having been homologated since SRO first proposed the category in 2005, GT3 appears to be the natural choice for the premier GT sprint series, and with most of the current GT1 generation coming to the end of their homologation period, a move to the GT3 category was the logical step.
“With the difficult economic climate and the ever-growing competition in motorsport we felt that the unification of the GT1 World and GT3 European Championships' technical and sporting regulations was the best solution to guarantee the growth of the sprint format for GT cars and progress toward the ultimate goal of 10 teams representing 10 brands in the World Championship” said Stephane Ratel, founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group. “We had a fantastic end to the 2011 season, meeting all our objectives in terms of coverage, spectator attendance and grids, with an extremely successful campaign in China, a grand finale in Argentina and an amazing GT3 finale in Zandvoort.
“As previously announced, the concept for the GT1 World Championship in 2012 is to have each team being the exclusive representative of one particular brand of car. By adopting the GT3 technical regulations, we are opening the way for the addition of a host of brands. Such a diversity of prestigious models in a single category would make the FIA GT1 World Championship unique in international motorsport.”
Besides the recent confirmation of World Championship-winning team Hexis entering McLaren MP4-12C cars (ABOVE), teams bringing more prestigious brands are set to join the fray and are currently weighing up their options. A number of teams are expected to announce their participation shortly.
The unification of the sporting regulations will see the FIA GT3 European Championship adopt the exciting pit stops and qualifying/championship race format seen in GT1, while retaining the driver categorization system. There will be no driver categorization in GT1, aimed at the top professional teams and drivers, which will move over to the traditional-style qualifying seen in GT3. As always, the cars will be balanced by the FIA to ensure equal performance.
“The FIA GT3 European Championship has remained unchanged since 2006, and has given rise to many national series around the world, which have copied the format,” Ratel explained. “The European Championship needs to regain its own specific nature and be more professional. We have therefore decided to adopt the best of the World Championship, in order to turn the European Championship into the perfect training ground for GT1. The teams and drivers will also benefit from additional media and TV coverage.”
Ratel added that in the event of a worsening economic situation in Europe where a minimum of 20 full-season entrants would not be guaranteed in each championship – FIA GT1 World and FIA GT3 European – a merger could be an appropriate solution, made possible by the harmonized format.
The calendar and revised sporting regulations will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council in early December for ratification.