Why We Need GT’s in the World Rally Championship

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As the WRC season rolls around once more, there are the usual mutterings about the state of World Rallying. “The cars are boring, the entries look thin etc etc”. Well, we’re never going to see the days of Group B again, so we’ll have to learn to get over that one. However, there’s one thing that seems to keep hovering on the sidelines of World Rally but never seems to actually happen. That’s the FIA GT Class for rally cars.

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Whenever something isn’t really working, a good idea is to get back to basics. So imagine if you had a rally class where the cars had a lot of power, more than they can comfortably handle. And they not cartoon caricatures of a saloon car, but a great looking GT. And they made a noise that had the hairs on your neck standing up. Well it used to be that way, FIA please call Porsche, I think you’ll find they’re ready to jump in.

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More than six years ago now, the FIA began talking and creating a GT class for rallying. Porsche built the 996 GT3 Rallye, BMW built an M3, even Aston Martin created a Vantage and Lotus tinkered with an Exige. So it’s not as if there was a lack of interest. Porsche’s rally programme has actually continued in the German domestic championship with great successes running first 996 GT3, then the 997 in rallying, winning championships and the prestigious Eiffel Rally. Indeed we’ve heard anecdotal runners that Francois Delecour tried to enter a GT3 RS in the Monte Carlo last year, but was turned down.

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So roll back over time, take a look at world rallying’s most popular periods. We had Porsches with Rothmans on the side, competing everywhere from the bumpy lanes of Ireland to the deserts of the Middle East, Renault Turbos with Pioneer on the sides driven by Frenchmen with crazy staring eyes and Escorts with BDA’s revving forever driven by Scandinavians with interesting pace notes.

As a taster of what we’re missing, take a look at these videos. First one is my favourite, the talented Marc Duez in the snow. Followed by another great Porsche rally video from Germany. Grab a coffee. And turn up the volume…

And secondly, a variety of German rally championship GT3’s. Keep the volume up…

So are the Germans deliberately keeping the GT rally excitement to themselves or are the FIA blocking GT’s simply because they’ll make a half million Euro WRC car look a little tame?

Images copyright Neill Watson & Porsche AG

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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