Sports car racing in Australia is finally headed for a unified future after several years of conflict and uncertainty in the GT category.
Grid sizes and competition for the GT sports cars from the Bathurst 12-Hour races have dived over the past two years but a new plan is intended to lure more than 50 cars back to tracks.
There is the promise of new approach and better organisation under the umbrella of the Australian Racing Group, which has taken management rights for a wide spread of categories from TCR to Trans Am and S5000 single-seaters.
“We want to re-set GT racing and get everyone back on track. And that means on-track in every way, in organisation and at circuits,” the CEO of ARG, Matt Braid, told Race News.
“There would be 60 to 80 GT cars in Australia, of varying ages and categories, so it’s a great carpark. It also aligns with the ARG strategy, because it’s global like TCR and there are regional opportunities.”
The new management team combines the global experience of the SRO – the Stefane Ratel Organisation – with local management by the Australian Racing Group and oversight by Motorsport Australia. It will cover the Motorsport Australia GT Championship and the Motoring Australia Endurance Championship.
The three-way tie-up will also see Australia added to the global GT World Challenge Powered by AWS platform in 2021 where it joins the international manufacturers’ championship.
“GT racing has had a couple of chequered years since Tony Quinn had it,” Braid admits, without going to any details of the fractures in the category that even led the creation of a parallel series.
“To re-set it and bring everybody back, we have to make it favourable and workable for everybody. There is obviously a lot of GT cars in Australia, and a lot of owners and drivers of varying abilities and interests. It’s a great opportunity.
“We have to see what works best for the portfolio of cars and drivers we have in Australia.”
Braid said there is no timetable yet for 2021 but he wants to ensure things are done correctly.
“We’re looking at the Motorsport Australia events, with the Shannons Series, but also events with other promoters. We’ve got a few ideas, but it’s too early to say with any conviction.
“We’re also reviewing race formats to see what options are available. It makes sense for us, strategically, that it works to link as closely as possible with other SRO championships.”
One of the key changes is the installation of Ken Collier, who has been with ARG for 18 months, as the category manager.
“The alignment of our local category with the global experience of SRO will definitely see some changes to the way GT racing has been conducted in the past, however I cannot see any downside for the Australian GT teams,” Collier said.
“Everyone who knows me will understand how passionate I am about GT racing and my excitement for the partnership with SRO is difficult to contain.”
For Stefane Ratel, the change in Australia is a chance to properly align GT racing with SRO’s work in Europe, Asia and America.
“This is an exciting time for SRO as we take a more active role in Australian GT racing, building upon our existing involvement with the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, and expand our global footprint,” he said.