Tell Me About: GT Racing

GT Racing takes all sorts, from little Lotuses to big Bentleys.

Grand Touring Racing is so wide and varied that getting into any discussion of the subject means you are guaranteed to miss something. This guide covers the basics of some of the most common types of GT racing cars but the list is not exhaustive.

 

Lets get stuck in:

 

 

Super GT

SuperGT is a Japanese formula which is really the pinnacle of GT racing. The cars all look like something you would expect a road car to look like but the similarity is only on the surface. Under the Nissan GT-R or Lexus RC-F body, (other cars are available) is something much more akin to a Formula 1 car or a Prototype.

 

The chassis doesn’t exist, its a carbon fibre monocoque with a roll cage to which body panels are attached. The engine will be putting out several hundred horsepower and will rev to stratospheric high levels, the gearbox will change cogs faster than you can blink.

 

It is also a blurring of the lines because the rule book is largely similar to that of the DTM, Germany’s premiere Touring Car series.

LM GTE Pro, LM GTE Am and GTLM

Three classes with one rulebook, the LM GTE and GTLM situation is fairly simple. Manufacturers go out and build their preferred road car into a GT car based on rules laid down by the  Automobile Club de l’Ouest. This should get the cars pretty close on performance but some balancing does go on, to keep the action close.

 

Cars available now include the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, the Ferrari 488 GTE and the Porsche 991 RSR with the new arrival, the Ford GT. These are the LM GTE cars and the difference between Pro and Am is all in the driver lineup. A Pro car can have, as you would expect given the name, a full crew of professional racing drivers. An Am car however must have at least one driver graded Bronze or Silver in the line up.

 

The ACO handles driver grading in association with the FIA.

 

GTLM is the same rulebook as for the LM GTE cars but they run in the States and in order to engage better with the audience, IMSA will grant waivers to teams to bend the rules and come racing. For example, the rules say the engine should be no larger in displacement than 4.5l, but both the Corvette and the SRT Viper have bigger powerplants. IMSA have said this is ok but use performance balancing to reduce the advantage it offers.

GT3

Now we come to the meat of the sandwich because the GT3 rules, thought up by the Stephane Ratel Organisation but now ubiquitous around the world, govern the vast majority of GT series in competition. Here is a rundown of just some of the championships that use GT3 cars:

 

  • British GT Championship.
  • Britcar-Endurance.
  • Blancpain Endurance Championship.
  • Blancpain Sprint Championship.
  • FFSA French GT Championship.
  • VLN, (Nurburgring races.)
  • European Le Mans Series.
  • Asian Le Mans Series.
  • WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.
  • Brazilian GT Championship.
  • Pirelli World Series.
  • Australian GT Championship.
  • International GT Open.
  • GT Cup.

 

Manufacturers start with a road car and do effectively what they want to it. They then rock up to Paul Ricard at the start of the year for a test. The data from this is collated before a Balance of Perforamance is produced which should mean that while some cars will be faster though the twisties and others will be quick on the straight, one driver should get the same lap time from a Lamborghini or a Lotus.

 

The WeatherTech championship in America uses cars that are pretty much GT3 cars with just a few regulatory changes which are holdovers from the Grand-Am years. They call them GT Daytona.

GT4

GT4 isn’t quite as popular as GT3 but it does have a strong following. Based on the same principles as GT3, that of a Balance of Performance based system for keeping everyone close together. Manufacturers have not been as keen to support the formula but there is still a lot of choice.

 

The go-to cars are either Ginetta or Aston Martin with G55 GT4 and Vantage GT4 making up a large percentage of the cars raced. There is still variety though because in British GT alone we have:

 

  • Aston Martin
  • Ginetta
  • Toyota GT-86
  • Lotus Evora
  • Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Ford Mustang
  • KTM XBow
  • BMW M3

 

British GT in 2015 is also the birthplace of a new GT4 car. McLaren have chosen the championship as the place to test and develop their all new 570S GT4, which will race alongside its GT3 brother, the 650S at Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse.