Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GT1 or GT3

The FIA GT championship season began its season last weekend at Nogaro. We had eagerly anticipated the start of the season. Change is almost always good, and when it's not, adapting to change can be fun.

Broadcasting platform
On the GT1 website (GT1world.com), we noticed that they have switched their video distribution platform from DailyMotion to YouTube. That's actually a good change. We love underdogs, but videos on DailyMotion just seem to use up computer resources and their streaming is simply not as refined and polished as YouTube.

Of course YouTube is a giant compared to DailyMotion. But with the videos on YouTube now, that means the FIA GT's races are now accessible literally anywhere. Any net connectivity device not designed to play YouTube videos can almost be called outdated.

But being that we are located in the U.S of A, we could access GT3 videos fine, and as well as GT1 interviews and previews, however the GT1 qualifying and the races seemed to be off limits to U.S viewers. As of this writing at least.

On DailyMotion we could watch everything. Is it really worth it to Stephane Ratel to sensor out viewers from the largest market for these cars? Last year we could catch the races fine even though they were supposedly also broadcast in the U.S on Bloomberg TV.

Whatever the reason, for the exclusion, we're not at all convinced it's the right move.

GT3 and more GT3?
SRO has moved to have the GT1 world championship use GT3 cars this year. Very understandable since GT1 cars are aging, and with a GT3 car it allows teams to use them in other championships, so more return on investment.

But at Nogaro this weekend the "GT1" race had similar lap times to the GT3 race. The difference in GT1 and GT3 is supposed to be that GT1 does not restrict the use of accomplished professional drivers, and in the past they were also to have the most developed GT cars.

GT3 on the other hand has regulations to prevent accomplished pros to participate. But there are enlightened youngsters and "master" racers who can light up the track just as well as a thoroughbred racer.

The pole time in GT3 for Qualifying 2 was 1:26.602 and the Qualifying 3 pole time in GT1 was 1:26.138. In our opinion those times are too close. From a spectator's point of view the GT1 race will not look much different from a GT3 race, since the cars would be going at almost the same speeds.

Sure a keen observer might notice the superior skills during the GT1 race, but not a casual fan. To expand the sport, casual fans are the ones whose allegiance you want to gain. F1 is so popular because of its out of this world speed.

We think to really do justice to the GT1 moniker, the cars racing under that championship should be sped up. The last time actual GT1 cars visited Nogaro was in 2008. The pole time of 1:23.703 was set by Marcel Fassler driving a Corvette Z06. The GT2 pole time was 1.26.296 by Richard Westbrook in a Porsche RSR.

So the current GT3 machines used in GT1 are as fast as the GT2 machines of old (evolution we suppose). But given that the ACO's current GT2 now called "GTE" machines have also evolved and have acquired more technology (carbon brakes, full telemetry, GT1 wings and tires, etc) they are no doubt faster.

In order to give more appeal to it's product SRO has to loosen up the restrictors on the cars. Ideally they would make them as fast or faster than the GT1 cars of old to really spice up the show. The fans will notice, and they will clearly be able to differentiate the support race from the main show.

More speed can bring up other issues, such as cost hikes and wear and tear, but the gain in entertainment value would more than compensate for those minor problems.