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GT3’s rise to global domination

It’s been a rapid rise for GT3 as it has emerged as the leading formula globally to know be raced at all the leading events such as at Le Mans, Spa, Daytona, Sebring and of course Australia’s own Repco Bathurst 12 Hour.

The regulation ruleset was devised by leading GT promoter Stephane Ratel and ere designed as an entry level formula based around amateur drivers, while also combining the various one-make platforms such as Porsche’s Carrera Cup, the Ferrari Challenge, the Viper Competition Coupe from Dodge among many others.

Launched in 2006, the first models homologated were the Maserati Coupe Gransport Light, Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, Aston Martin DBRS9, Lamborghini Gallardo LP520, Corvette Z06.R, Ascari KZ1-R, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Ferrari F430 and the Venturi Heritage, which failed to make an appearance.

Using Balance of Performance methods where aerodynamics, weight, engine management and horsepower are measured then equalled across the manufacturers in an all-in test held prior to the season by a professional driver.

Driver’s aids are also prevalent in the formula due to the targeting of amateur drivers as GT3 entries contain traction control and ABS.

Following its debut during the 2006 season manufacturers were quick to embrace GT3 as Ford, Jaguar, Morgan, Lotus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG all joined the field within the first five years.

The early days of the formula welcomed a lot of privately developed entries approved by manufacturers helped by the fact factory teams were outlawed during the early days, but by 2011 GT3 was forging ahead as the jewel in Ratel’s crown.

Australia gradually welcomed GT3 from the 2006 season as Aston Martin and Lotus joined former Nations Cup machinery in the Australian GT Championship. But by 2009, the choice to go GT3 was vindicated when an influx of models arrived in part due to the cancellation of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.

The Bathurst 12 Hour elected to go GT3 in 2011 and the first two years were lacklustre as Audi entered Phoenix Racing to win back-to-back races.

However, it soon became a destination race for factory Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, Nissan, Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin joined Audi in chasing success. In the early days, the Bathurst 12 Hour regulations dictated an amateur or Bronze-rated driver was required in the line-up, but now this isn’t the case.

GT3 has also risen globally to lead the Intercontinental GT Challenge, while being the leading GT class in the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship and now the FIA World Endurance Championship.

New models set to come on stream for the future include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and a new Toyota.