GT1 vows to 'respect GT heritage'

The new FIA GT1 World Championship represents a direct link to the rich heritage of GT racing, series boss Stephane Ratel has insisted

GT1 vows to 'respect GT heritage'

Speaking at the launch of the new series in Paris this week, Ratel said that he would "respect the heritage of the past" at the same time as trying to bring the championship to "a larger and, maybe, younger fan base".

He explained that a focus on "true Grand Touring cars" built by "brands filled with history" was central to his plan.

"This is not a supercar championship: GT means Grand Touring," said Ratel, who explained that the Maserati MC12 would only be allowed to compete in the first two years of the series.

"That is why we will refuse supercars in favour of GT cars produced in larger numbers.

"Every time we evolved into GT prototypes, like we did in the late 1990s, we lost our soul and destroyed our championship."

Ratel explained that the spirit of GT racing would be maintained despite the shift away from endurance races to a format of two one-hour sprints each weekend.

"Even if we have shorter races, it is important to have two-driver races, because then it is the brand that wins," he said. "On Sunday the brands win and on Monday the brands get advertising in the papers."

"Our grandfathers had it right: there was a world championship for drivers, which was Formula 1. And there was a world championship for brands."

The inaugural GT1 world championship was launched at the FIA headquarters in the Place de la Concorde on Monday. One car from each of the 12 teams representing six brands or manufacturers, was on display.

The first round of the championship takes place at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on April 17. The 10-round series includes six events in Europe, the first at Silverstone on May 2, and races in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

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