GTWC Europe

Interview with Stéphane Ratel: 24H of Spa, GT2, categorisation, FIA Motorsport Games

GT World Challenge Europe
8 Sep. 2022 • 10:00
lmercier at Hockenheim
Hockenheim marked the come back of the SRO championships after the 24 Hours of Spa. The German meeting was an opportunity for Endurance-Info to speak with Stéphane Ratel, president and founder of SRO Motorsports Group. On the agenda: what worked and what didn't work at the 24 Hours of Spa, GT2 at Spa in 2023, the readjustment of the drivers' categorisation and the FIA Motorsport Games.
Photo : Patrick Hecq

What do you remember about the 24 Hours of Spa?


"After two complicated editions for the fans, 2022 was a dream edition: what a public, what a crazy event ! It's quite difficult to see the reasons for this progress apart from the Covid-19, because the grid was already magnificent in recent years. I just think it's a combination of two years without fans. You see it in other sporting events. Let's not forget the presence of Valentino Rossi, which certainly brought a lot of publicity. At Hockenheim, it's a bit like sowing something on a dry soil because we are in the land of the DTM and the ADAC GT Masters. At Spa, the soil is fertile. The attendance figures given by SRO are the real figures (73,000 spectators). The parade was also a great success. In the first years, we had to give passes to the teams in order to get people to come. The public responded and this is a great satisfaction for the whole SRO team."

Photo : Patrick Hecq

Is there anything to improve?


"We're not going to lie, we were overwhelmed by the grid procedure. We want the 24 Hours of Spa to remain a popular event. You couldn't even see the cars on the grid anymore. The idea is to have more time for the start ceremony in the future. When I think that we had up to 72 GT3s at the start. The 65 is perfect for this event. The new podium procedure was a good idea and now we have to improve it."


You announced the possible presence of GT2 next year at the 24H of Spa in Am. Is the feedback positive?


"Let's say that the approach is progressive. The aim is not to throw two GT2s in the middle of a GT3 field because that would mean nothing. Maybe I'm wrong and I should favour the Pro class in GT3. I'm still convinced that the Am and Pro-Am crews are essential in what we do. With GT2 I'm just starting to open the door to cars that can go the distance, as we saw at the last 24 Hours of Zolder. We'll see if the interest is there but there's no question of chasing the GT3s. The only GT2 that can't do long stints is the Porsche GT2 RS CS that can't last 60 minutes. The BOP will therefore be reviewed. Having four to six GT2s next year would be a good start."

Photo : SRO

Do you also see the GT2 class as an insurance policy in case the GT3 class drifts financially?


"Maserati and Mercedes are coming in 2023, so the field will grow. The GT3 class is evolving with a Ferrari 296 GT3 which is very nice and allows more freedom than the previous rules. GT3s are becoming more and more like racing cars. With GT2, we are back to what we knew at the beginning of GT3 in 2006, namely simpler, less expensive and high-performance cars for gentlemen. To govern, you need a plan. It's a luxury to have so many GT3s at the 24 Hours of Spa, but will it still be the case in three years' time? Having a compensation category means that we are not caught off guard. Unlike the GT2s, the GT4s have no place at Spa."


The other new feature of the traditional press conference is the adjustment of the driver categorisation. Something more logical is to be expected?


"We had to readjust everything. We could see that some Gold riders are faster than Platinum riders. We are going to submit our lists to the FIA with the ambition of having a fairer framework for everyone. We need a real logic and something that is rewarding. We will not prevent drivers who are on the borderline between two categories. This year, we have set up a team committee which has ruled on contentious cases and which has worked well. Those who appeal will go before the SRO committee. It is possible to do the same thing in FFSA GT."


The FIA Motorsport Games are approaching. Are you confident about the success of the event?


"There is still work to be done because the countries are deciding rather late. It's a bit of a cash budget thing because if there's a budget left at the end of the season, then the entries come in. We are multiplying the disciplines this year. For the GT part, we had 20 cars in Rome and I hope that we will be between 18 and 20 at Paul Ricard. We are losing Russia, Belarus and China for the reasons we know. The idea is to keep the event every other year. I hope that we will be able to announce the destination for 2024 at the event at the end of October. Europe will again be on the menu in 2024. Rome had a very beautiful environment, the Paul Ricard allows us to host multiple disciplines. The third edition will focus on the popular side."


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