02 August 2013

2014: IT IS ALREADY TOMORROW!

As every year, Stephane Ratel, Founder & CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, took the opportunity of the Total 24 Hours of Spa to talk to the teams and media in order to reveal the 2014 guidelines for the Blancpain Endurance Series, the FIA GT Series, the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the Cooper Tyres British F3 International Series.

GT3 Category

“We confirm the 2014 freeze on all existing GT3 model specifications”, Ratel said. “The goal is obviously to control costs. All the cars are competitive, so no evolution kits will be allowed. We are really happy to welcome the development of three new models, that will appear sometimes next year: Bentley GT, Dodge Viper and Corvette C7 by Callaway.”

“We confirm SRO’s commitment to the GT3 category and our scepticism concerning the GT convergence project. Things are moving in the right direction and the FIA now understands that GT racing deserves two categories to match different needs, budgets and level of manufacturers’ involvement. We promote the idea that GT3 should be the base model for GT3+/GT2 evolutions.”

“We want to continue to work hand-in-hand with the FIA, especially on the Balance of Performance. The BOP will continue to be based on that of the FIA, with only small adjustments to fit the specificity of the Blancpain high-speed circuits and British GT tyres.”

Blancpain Endurance Series

Stability is the key to the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series. “I do not need to say how remarkable this series has become. It is a perfect collaboration with a great and ideal partner, Blancpain ,and a fantastic event, the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The Blancpain Endurance Series answers the needs of the Pro, Pro-Am and Gentlemen drivers. Our objective now is to stabilize it.”

“We want to keep the same calendar: the same dates, the same events and the same number of events. After review and consultation with the teams, the following proposed changes to the sporting regulations have been rejected: there will be no change to the Pro class, where drivers’ categorisation had been suggested, and no change to the qualifying system, with teams rejecting the suggested alternative options, of an average qualifying time, or a split grid.  There will be no limitation to the number of entrants, as natural attrition should bring the grid back to around the 50-car mark.”

“At the end of the day, only two changes will be introduced. Race-by-race entrants at Spa and Nürburgring will not score points unless they are entered in one of the three-hour races held beforehand, while the Gentlemen Trophy class will be reserved for Bronze drivers only.”

“I heard rumours about a Blancpain World Series project. These are only rumours, there is no such project. We do not think that our teams will be able to finance a worldwide calendar. We need to be realistic.”

“Our effort will continue to be to reinforce the promotion of the Blancpain Endurance Series. The Total 24 Hours of Spa is now a major event.  Considering the number of people I saw along the road at the parade, I really think this event is growing year after year. The number of cars that can win makes it more interesting for everyone. We now need to reinforce the Blancpain 1000 at the Nürburgring this year, and we are working to prepare an evening race with a major concert next year at Paul Ricard.”

“We are also working on the TV distribution. We went from seven channels in 2012 to 23 channels this season. We want to reinforce the weekend package with additional support races while keeping the two day schedule, essential to the Blancpain Endurance Series.”

Stephane Ratel announced the Blancpain Endurance Series 2014 calendar, which is similar to this year’s.

PROVISIONAL CALENDAR 2014
Monza 13 April 2014
Silverstone 01 June 2014
Paul Ricard 29 June 2014
24H of Spa 27 July 2014
Nürburgring 1000: 21 September 2014

FIA GT SERIES 2014

“I was really a fan of the FIA GT1 World Championship format. We believed that by staying in Europe and taking the ingredients of the Blancpain Endurance Series, namely three categories, it could work. And it is working, with an average of 22 cars, 24 to 26 expected on the next events. We are also expecting a great grand finale at the Baku World Challenge with 30 cars, including the winner of the Blancpain Endurance Series and the British GT champion.”

“We have invested a lot in television in order to increase the TV viewership with 1,9 Million viewers per event thanks to RTL in Germany, Channel 4 in the UK, SporTV in Brazil, Bloomberg and many more, including Eurosport, who will broadcast the Baku race live.  We have never had so many viewers.”

“Once again stability is the key. We will have a stable calendar remaining at six events, keeping the most successful 2013 events in terms of public attendance and replacing the others, adding a couple of prestigious circuits, possibly Formula One tracks.”

“Regarding the sporting regulations, we will rename the Pro-Am class the Silver Cup to fit the reality of a category reserved for young drivers aiming at a professional career, and adjust the Team point scoring system.”

AVON TYRES BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP & COOPER TIRES BRITISH F3 INTERNATIONAL SERIES

Last but not least, the British activities.  The British GT is booming. “We have a very good balance and the main goal is to keep the British GT Championship as a Pro-Am championship,” explained Stephane Ratel. “So we do not plan any changes to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship which is enjoying its most successful season ever with over 30 cars at each event, reinforcing GT3 with GT4 cars.”

“The Cooper Tires British F3 International series will revert to National Championship status for 2014,with five races in the UK and one at the Spa 24h event. Now that there is the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, there is no point to add another international series. So it is going to be as it was before: a pure British F3 Championship. SRO will continue to carry the Formula 3 flag.”

“We will use the current 2013 FIA engines and run with both the Dallara 308 and 312 chassis. With lower budgets for a six-race national championship, it will position the British F3 Championship as a feeder series to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and guarantee healthy grids”.

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