The category has made GT racing more accessible for teams, as well as drivers. “A team can buy a car that is homologated, they know it will be competitive because of the BoP and the car comes with a base set-up,” says Bentley Motorsport boss Brian Gush, who leads the Continental GT3 programme. “The teams know how much they cost to run per kilometre because they are told, so they can hit the ground running. Buying a GT3 car is like booking a room at a Holiday Inn: you know exactly what you are going to get.”
The origins of the class that has democratised GT racing can be traced back to the mid-1990s and the Lamborghini Diablo GTR racer built for a one-make series launched by Stéphane Ratel, the most important figure in GT racing over the past 20-plus years and the architect of the GT3 category.
The Lambo was essentially a souped-up road car, built on the production line, with a standard six-litre V12 engine. It wasn’t sophisticated, but it was quick thanks to a power output of 600bhp that was as much as the high-tech and low-mileage race engines powering the GT1 machinery that competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in the FIA GT Championship. Ratel thought that if Lamborghini could build a cheap car that was also fast, then so could other manufacturers.
“That car was extremely fast and strong, and cost nothing to run,” he recalls. “I remember some of my clients went up to 20,000km on those cars without opening the engine. Next to that, we had FIA GTs with very expensive cars that required an engine rebuild every 5000km.”