Motor-racing is going through somewhere of a transition. Whilst F1 is seemingly on a downward spiral and losing its appeal, the likes of Rally X and Formula E are bringing new fans to the sport. Another motor sport gaining all the time is GT racing – both nationally and the international series. Watching cars stripping each other round a track is one thing, make those cars accessible in terms of supercars we adore and add in the odd friendly nudge and you have something of a revival.
We teamed up with Pirelli (the people that do tyres and supply most of the biggest motor sports in the world) and Lamborghini to take a ‘normal’ every day GT3 car (the Lamborghini Huracan) and see how that compares to those going round the track at Silverstone on a very wet British GT Championship.
One of the beauties of GT3 (just like Rally, Touring Cars et al) is these car’s are perfectly accessible and based upon real road cars. Yes these cars may be at the very highest end, but that does mean they would have much less in terms of alterations to make the race ready when compared to say an Audi A1 running Rally X! Watching the cars race round at a thundering pace and know what each one is just from the famed shape just adds to the fun and enables you to feel a little like a racing know-it-all.
As well as the Lamborghini, the rest of the GT3 grid is like a who’s who of super cars. Featuring; V12 Aston Martin Vantages, Audi R8 LMS running thier wonderful V10, a V8 Twin Turbo lump pushing round Bentley Continentals plus others including BMW Z4, Ferrari 488, Ginetta G55 and some beautiful McLaren 650Ss – and that is just GT3! In the other classes (though still all on track at the same time you will also find the likes of Porsche, BMW M4, Toyota GT86 and of course Mercedes AMG..
The drivers are a mix of professional and amateur, with one of each per team and each driver having to do a minimum of approximately 45% of any race time to ensure a fair contest. Some of the professionals include former F1 Test Driver – Dani Juncadella, Former Touring Car Driver – Hunt Abbot, the dude off the baking telly – Paul Hollywood, former world rally driver Robert Barrable and one of the most exciting young prospects in British motor-racing, Seb Morris.
Whilst there is still a professional drivers championship, the fact that all time must be split near equally in every car ensure that things never stop and the action continues from start to finish. As amateur drivers must start a race, it can often lead to the professional drivers ending up perhaps a not pristine car after a few bumps and bruises along the way!
As most motor sport events the racing is spread out over two days, the Saturday being testing and qualifying and the Sunday being used for the main races with pretty much a full schedule both days. One of the beautiful things is that there just isn’t the red-tape you get with the likes of F1. British GT racing is very accessible with anyone being able to walk right up to pit garages (though not in without permission) and even sign up and queue for a grid walk at selected times. You will find the drivers all milling around the track and their isn’t an air of exclusivity like you get at some racing. Which is a great thing.
Now with all outdoor events, things can be a little weather dependent and when we headed to Silverstone the rain gods were not kind to us! Whilst Saturday was mostly dry, we got rained on pretty much all day Sunday, but of course there are stands which keep you dry and the rain didn’t dampen spirits too much! We actually went to our second race in a month at our local Snetterton and the blistering sunshine made for a much drier experience with crowds out in full course the week after the Touring Cars came to visit.
Whilst some say elitist motor sports is very much on the decline, more accessible motoring such as GT3 and Rally X just keep on growing. Cheaper admission, more access to drivers and a relaxed atmosphere no matter where you are just some of the highlights over a rather epic weekend of racing. We can’t wait for next year!