Panorama That Is.
We don’t hear much on these pages from Johannes Gauglica these days, more’s the pity – But he’s still very much interested in goings on in the world of endurance racing – Evidenced pretty well by this missive – reproduced with JG’s permission from a posting he’s made on the Facebook Page of radio Le mans’ Midweek Motorsport Listeners Collective:
The Bathurst 12 Hours have developed into an event that brings together competitors from several championships, classes, and nowadays drivers from all over the world; a summit on the Mountain, if you like. There are a handful of these now, at Dubai, Daytona, Spa and the Nürburgring, that are fixtures on their regional calendars.
On the other hand, there are more GT championships than ever, possibly too many in some markets, and most of them are too similar. In a market that mainly follows the wishes of sportsman drivers, standalone events seem to be come more and more important.
Are we headed back to an era where trophies count more than titles? Customer teams will follow the ladies & gentlemen who pay the bills, and they tend to choose their races based around whatever else they have to do th earn, or spend, their money. As an affluent privateer, would you stick with one particular series regardless of where it goes, or pick assorted cherries out of the global racing cake? It does tend to favour the bigger teams; an outfit like AF Corse has a car ready for any spec, any regulation.
In my book, one of the real winners of this B12 was Peugeot. While we have followed their 908 programme (and mostly ignored their rally programme which happens to be a money maker), they have quietly built on the initiative of the German PR department, who initially went VLN racing with the RCZ. It looks like the idea has filtered back to France. While this RCZ won’t ever win Peugeot any outright trophies anywhere, they have the opportunity to make a fairly big PR splash at comparatively little cost when/whereever they find a class to enter this car.
At Bathurst, they have put on a whole product launch around this one race which is good for the event itself as well as for the brand. They picked a suitable class, and brought two very well presented cars with the new facelift body (no need to re-homologate!) as proper factory entries. It got them what they wanted: a grand day out for dealers, associates & media, and the headline :”Peugeot wins” – even if it was only in class. The actual racing side of it all was probably only a fraction of what they spent on the weekend.
In this time of limited budgets, this might well be the way factories choose to go racing. If you pick your events right, there is no need for a factory racing programme. And it also serves as an incentive/reward for the road car development engineers who may actually take knowledge back to the next road cars. Subaru does quite the same at the N24.
Organisers worldwide should realise that it is possible only if the regulations provide for a genuine multi class format: Actual classes, as opposed to BoP levels. This is not another argument about the pros & cons of BoP, we have been through too many of those. What I am saying is that classes based on the good old fashioned engine displacement limit offer non-luxury, mainstream manufacturers a place where they can showcase what they actually produce. Peugeot won’t build a GT3 car, it makes no sense for them. A 1.6l turbo racecar reflects what they have in their showrooms. They spent their corporate money on this motor race because it made sense to them. Does supporting locally important events such as the B12 make more sense for manufacturers than expensive World Championship programmes?