The basic idea, which has encouraged SRO Motorsport Group to create the GT4 European Cup, is to extend the proven GT3 concept to a less expensive second-tier GT category of vehicles, with an emphasis on reduced running costs, high reliability and the carry-over of production parts.
GT4's technical foundation therefore allows for road-going GT cars to be developed for racing with the idea of achieving a balanced level of performance amongst competitors.
Race preparation of standard cars will concentrate on braking and transmission systems, dampers and safety elements (cockpit, fuel tank, etc.) while leaving the engine in its original form as much as possible. Basically, SRO is considering GT cars with an approximate power-to-weight ratio of 3.5 kg/hp. Furthermore, the original aerodynamics of a car must also be maintained, therefore no wings or spoilers shall be permitted unless they are an integral part of the original bodywork of a basic model.
In 2007, the GT4 European Cup will be organised by SRO Group through its Belgian affiliate, SRO Belgium, managed by Pascal Witmeur. The series will enjoy an FIA approved international status this year before becoming an FIA sanctioned GT4 European Cup in 2008. In the future, eligible cars shall be those which will be prepared in conformity with the official technical sheet specifically homologated by the FIA for each model of car.
After a period of fine-tuning the philosophy of a series which caters to owners of road-going GT cars, an initial "balance of performance" test was conducted at Nogaro early March by SRO appointed driver, Kurt Mollekens, under the supervision of the series' technical director Kurt Van Campenhout. Three models of cars took part in this first collective evaluation: a Ford Mustang FR500GT, a Lotus Sport Exige and an Aston Martin Vantage N24.
A second test, scheduled at Dijon on April 17th and 18th, will see the BMW Z4 and the Maserati Trofeo put through their paces and their performances compared and balanced. On the eve of the Silverstone race, a Porsche Cayman and a Nissan 350Z will also join the ranks of GT4. Later in the year, the Audi TT and Opel GT will also boost a field which promises to be diverse and competitive in 2008.
In general , GT4 is set to evolve around its homologation philosophy, based on individual spec sheets per model of car. It must also be noted that once the technical specs of a car have been validated, no modifications or evolutions shall be permitted without the written consent of SRO.
Practically, potential competitors will be confronted with three cases:
An entrant chooses a road-going GT model in phase with the overall philosophy of GT4, and submits to SRO the mandatory "Go-Ahead" form outlining the basic technical specs of a particular car. Additional comments are also submitted, detailing any eventual modifications an entrant plans to undertake. After satisfactorily reviewing the "Go-Ahead" form, SRO will provide the entrant with a green light for GT4 preparation and the subsequent balance of performance test. During this test, further modifications may be allowed by SRO in order to balance a car's potential in relation to that of its rivals.
An entrant chooses a model of car which already exists in ready-to-race form, the 'on paper' performance of which must be in compliance with the GT4 philosophy. Examples of such cars are the Mustang FR500GT (as developed by Multimatic), the Maserati Trofeo, the Aston Martin Vantage N24 and the Lotus Sport Exige. These cars, which are given a 'de facto' green light by SRO because of their original racing form, may be directly submitted to the balance of performance test, although their specifications shall only be deemed definitive once they have been 'equalized' against the referenced lap time established by Kurt Mollekens.
If a competitor decides to enter a model of car which has already passed the equalization test, he is also granted a 'de facto' green light by SRO to race-prepare a car along the strict lines of the car's specific homologation sheet.
With regard to the above examples, with the exception of the Mustang, Maserati, Aston Martin and Lotus, a certain degree of initiative is left with competitors to prepare and modify their chosen car. But race preparation must tend towards a level of performance in conformity with SRO's objective of generating a level playing field. The overall homologation procedure enhances simplicity and cost reduction while also implicating competitors in the development and evolution of the GT4 European Cup.
Like the FIA GT3 European Championship, the GT4 European Cup is restricted to non-professional drivers as defined by the following criteria.
Platinum drivers : a professional driver, generally recognized as a well-known driver on the international scene, under the age of 55. Drivers who have held a super licence, who have finished in the top ten in major single-seater competitions, who have won Le Mans or been a contracted as a works driver : NOT ELIGIBLE FOR GT4
Gold drivers : semi-professional drivers taking part in an international series or who have distinguished themselves in national Championships, or who have finished in the top ten in single-seater competitions : NOT ELIGIBLE FOR GT4
Silver drivers : drivers aged under 30, not satisfying the criteria for the Platinum or Gold categories. Accomplished amateur drivers who may have won national or international Championships associated with professional drivers, or who have single-seater experience : ELIGIBLE FOR THE GT4 EUROPEAN CUP
Bronze drivers : amateur drivers. Any driver who was over 30 when his first license was issued, who has little or no single-seater experience : ELIGIBLE FOR THE GT4 EUROPEAN CUP
In the interest of the series' prestige, SRO reserves the right to allow well known drivers, veteran or semi-retired professional drivers to compete in GT4.
As a reminder, each car may be driven by one or two drivers over the course of a race weekend. No drivers changes shall be permitted during a race. After each race, the best placed Bronze driver will also be invited on the podium, while the best Silver and Bronze drivers will also receive a trophy at the end of the season.
Sponsorship on overalls shall be at a driver's discretion. Only the presence of the official GT4 logo shall be required.
Drivers must hold an international C license.
Pirelli has been chosen as the exclusive tyre supplier for the GT4 European Cup.
Every competitor will be entitled to two sets of slick tyres over the race weekend. If necessary, rain tyres will also be made available.
Tyre prices will vary according to size. As an example, the tyres used on the Lotus Exige are different in size compared to those used on the Mustang FR500GT. Accordingly, their price will also vary
The GT4 European Cup follows the same point distribution scheme as the FIA GT championship, both regarding driver and team scoring. In the case of two drivers sharing a car over a race weekend, their individual points will be doubled in order to level their chances with those of single driver entries.
1st : 10 pts
2nd : 8 pts
3rd : 6 pts
4th : 5 pts
5th : 4 pts
6th : 3 pts
7th : 2 pts
8th : 1 pt
At the end of each race, the podium will also host the best "Bronze" driver (hereunder 'Eligible drivers') of the race, and a special trophy shall also be awarded at the last race to the best driver of this category.
In order to encourage racing between competitors driving the same model of cars in GT4, a 'Cup' challenge specific to a manufacturer will be organised if at least 5 cars of the same model take part in a race.
We could therefore see a 'Maserati Cup', an 'Aston Martin Cup', etc..