Stephane Ratel has come out against plans for a single GT category to replace GTE and GT3.
Ratel, the architect of the GT3 category and the world's leading promoter of GT racing, has announced that he opposes the plan put forward last week by the FIA and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest at Le Mans after meeting with the sport's governing body on Tuesday morning. He has put forward an alternative plan for international GT racing in which GT3 is retained.
In as statement issued by his SRO Motorsports Group, Ratel argued that GT3, which was introduced in 2006, should be retained on stability grounds.
It described GT3 as one of the "fastest growing categories in motorsport," which had brought 14 marques together in a single class. It stated that those marques should "not be disturbed by the need to rescue the ACO GTE category." Ratel also argued that GT racing required different classes like other forms of motorsport.
"GT racing deserves, like most other major categories, different steps of development," read the statement. "This should correspond to the variable levels of team and manufacturer involvement. There is as much a need for two categories in GT racing as there is in prototypes where LMP2 cars run alongside LMP1 entries."
A third argument against working toward one class was the differing needs within the marketplace. He said any attempt to merge the two divisions would "go against the interest of the teams and manufacturers competing in each category", which could mean some marques no longer being able to compete.
Ratel's alternative plan calls for the GT3 category to be retained, while keeping a cap on costs by limiting developments. He said there should be the launch of a new FIA GT2 category to replace GTE where performance balancing would be limited to success ballast. He said this would be "a category where GT manufacturers will prove through competition they can produce the best road-going GT car."
The FIA and the ACO jointly announced last Friday at the Fuji World Endurance Championship round that they want to replace GTE and GT3 with a single class. They announced that they wanted a class with a strict rulebook, as in GTE, with the lower costs of GT3. No timescale was set for the introduction of the new class ahead of the first meeting of a working group next month. ACO sporting manager Vincent Beaumesnil stressed that it would not come into force before 2015.
Porsche, which builds cars for both GTE and GT3, has also come out against the FIA/ACO plan (SEE MAG). Marque motorsport boss Hartmut Kristen's views echoed of Ratel when he said that two types of car were required to meet the needs of professional and semi-professional or amateur GT racing.