On this day in 2006, GT racing entered a brave new world as the Stephane Ratel Organisation launched the first standalone GT3 race at Silverstone under the auspices of the FIA GT3 European Championship. Rising Danish star Allan Simonsen and co-driver Hector Lester in a JMB Motorsport Ferrari 430 Challenge GT3 were the inaugural winners, beating the Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of 19-year-old Sean Edwards and Dimitris Deverikos and the Ascari KZ1R GT3 of Ben Collins and Aaron Scott.
Targeted as a cost-effective way for aspiring young professionals and gentleman drivers to go racing with GT1 and GT2 budgets on an upward spiral, the GT3 premise had been tested as a sub-category in the 2005 British GT championship with great success and given a full launch for 2006.
Privately, Ratel held ambitions of the formula going global, but few – Ratel included – could have expected GT3 to take off in quite the way it has. One of the keys to its success, Balance of Performance (BoP), is not to everybody’s taste, but gave manufacturers incentive to develop race-going versions of their road products to sell to customer teams, safe in the knowledge that they would be equalised.
Today, GT3 is in rude health in Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia, with the premier Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup attracting a 57-car entry for the first race of the year at Monza. The cars are far more advanced than they were ten years ago, but the inclusive ethos remains much the same.
Over the coming month on Racing.GT we will be celebrating GT3’s tenth anniversary with exclusive video, artwork and editorial content, speaking to those involved and recalling their favourite memories of the category.
We hope that you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together!
The Racing GT Team
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