SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel has said that a lack of entries influenced by coronavirus pandemic measures led to the cancelation of the GT3-based Fanatec GT Rebellion Series, which was due to launch this year.
The competition was announced at last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa while the inaugural 2021 season was due to consist of four three-hour races for Bronze-rated driver crews.
Running alongside a standalone series for SRO’s nascent GT2 formula, it effectively replaced the old GT Sports Club championship that held seasons from 2015 until 2019.
The GT Rebellion Series was due to run at Hockenheim this weekend followed by rounds at Silverstone and Spa combined with British GT and an October finale at Paul Ricard.
However, Ratel explained that it did not attract a large enough grid to get off the ground, and cited the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on travel for amateur racers as a key factor.
“We had a commitment for 12 cars and a possibility for another three,” he told Sportscar365.
“We wouldn’t have had all three, but I hoped for one or two. We were counting on having 12 or 14 cars which was very slim for an endurance race but it was, like GT2, the survival line to do it.
“In the two following weeks, we lost three cars. We didn’t gain any of the cars we were hoping to have in addition to the 12, and we lost three cars. So that was game over.
“You don’t start the series with nine cars. It’s sad because it just shows that it’s difficult at the moment. Having worked on it for six months, we didn’t do it by coincidence: we did it because quite a lot of teams had an interest in this Am series and because they have Am clients.
“I think with the pandemic going on and on, some of this clientele was specifically not racing. Even the good clients from GT Sports Club that we had before. The ones that raced had a general feeling that they would prefer to stay at home.
“They were not really keen on traveling to an international series. Having proposed to some of these guys, do you want to come into World Challenge? It’s difficult to make the jump.”
Only last month Ratel said that SRO’s long-term vision for GT Rebellion would be for it to serve as a way of rebuilding a diminished field of all-amateur driver lineups in the headline Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.
He has described sliding amateur driver numbers in SRO’s European GT3 structure as a “worry” and maintains that there is a need to find a way of restoring the participation of those paying competitors.
When asked if SRO intends to drum up support for a GT Rebellion relaunch next year, Ratel responded: “It’s really to sit down with the teams.
“It’s a no-brainer that real gentlemen drivers today find GT World Challenge a bit too professional and find other series on the market a bit too unprofessional.
“When they’ve been in our paddock and see the sporting and technical level, they want to stay with the SRO environment. But they are finding that GT World Challenge has lots of young and Pro drivers and that they are just the third or fourth class and it’s difficult.
“That’s why we really thought it would be something. I continue thinking the concept for real Ams is right, and maybe the timing is wrong.
“Maybe the format was not the right one. In America, the sprint GT America is working quite well.
“We couldn’t have tried more than we did. We really tried. But at the end of the day, it didn’t work. When something doesn’t work you just need to say, OK, we tried. We tried many new things this year and many of them work, so it’s OK if one doesn’t work.”
12-Car Grid for Second GT2 Europe Round
While GT Rebellion will be absent from his weekend’s SRO meeting at Hockenheim, a dozen cars are set to contest round two of the Fanatec GT2 European Series.
The entry list includes five KTM X-Bow GT2s, trios of Audi R8 LMS GT2s and Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo GT2s and a single Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.
GT3 Audi squad Attempto Racing and fellow German team AKF Motosport have joined with Lamborghini’s adapted Super Trofeo racer which holds an SRO GT2 homologation.
The winners at last month’s Monza season-opener, High Class Racing and PK Carsport, return with the same driver pairings in their Audis while double 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hans-Joachim Stuck is back at the wheel of a Reiter-prepared KTM X-Bow GT2.
Ratel, who is driving his own Audi at Hockenheim, noted the importance of SRO launching a standalone GT2 series rather than integrating the GT Rebellion entries.
“It’s difficult enough to launch one series, so two at the same time is a stretch,” he said.
“The initial idea was to do one Am series mixing GT3 and GT2. But for some reason, the general feedback we were getting was, if you’re a GT2 against GT3 you don’t have a chance.
“And the GT3 guys tell you that the GT2s are fast. Maybe we should have pushed it through, but I think for GT2 to grow, I think it needs to be on its own.
“If we would have put both together, then we would have had a good grid. We would have had more than 20 cars. But I don’t think it would have been the right way to do it.
“If we want GT2 to grow, it needs to grow on its own like GT4 grew. It’s been difficult to grow GT4, but it’s been mainly on its own. Strangely enough, only in the UK it grew as a class. In France when we said no more GT3 and converted to GT4, then it grew.
“So I guess that’s the way to start a category, if you want to start it quicker. You have more light when you don’t grow under a tree.”