The new threat facing SRO's ultra-successful GT3 category
The manufacturers were unconvinced – and even hostile – when Stephane Ratel launched GT3 in 2006. Now, 15 years on from its debut, they’ve sold more than 2000 cars and counting, but its continued expansion puts the increasingly globalised category at risk of losing its roots.
When Stephane Ratel presented his ideas for a new tier of GT racing to a group of manufacturers in November 2004, he got a mixed response. Ferrari and Porsche were opposed, while the representative from Mercedes sought him out afterwards to suggest in no uncertain terms that the German manufacturer would never build a car for the proposed class, FIA backing or no. The category was GT3 and, 15 successful years on from its launch in 2006, Mercedes is now one of its top participants, with total sales knocking on the door of 300 cars.
Mercedes isn’t the only manufacturer to have sold GT3 cars in big numbers since it belatedly joined the party when the SLS AMG GT3 was released to customers for the 2011 season. Audi delivered its 200th R8 LMS GT3 midway through 2016, only seven and a bit years after the first iteration made its bow in the hands of a select band of handpicked teams for what was a kind of development year.
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