GT4 – GT3’S LITTLE BROTHER
Despite a troubled past, GT4 has exploded across the world and is now garnering a significant amount of interest from Australia.
RISE OF GT3 has seen a popular resurgence of GT racing worldwide and in turn there has been a rise in significant manufacturer support and in turn, costs have risen to an extremely high level.
This is where GT4 comes in.
GT4 is an inexpensive entry into GT racing. The cars are less modified, but still provide some of the driver aids that GT3 cars are equipped with and are half the price of their GT3 equivalents. GT4 is starting to gain traction overseas – much like GT3 did ten years ago – with manufacturers such as Ford, BMW, McLaren, Mercedes, Audi, KTM and Chevrolet homologating cars, a resurgence in popularity in Europe, whilst expansion in the US has been nothing short of successful, but will this translate across the Pacific Ocean here in Australia?
Zagame Motorsport’s Cameron McConville thinks so. Zagame Motorsport will be the distributor of the McLaren 570S GT4 car, with already three sold with a few more sales in the pipeline. McConville sees the category as a good inbetween class to learn in.
“I think GT4 has a big future in Australia,” enthused McConville. “I see the manufacturers, the factories and the professional drivers still in GT3 but I think the customer racers will be focused on, longer term, GT4.
“I can see 15-20 of them in 2018 maybe 19. I think the next two-three years I think it will be its own series, it might be the Sprint Series with GT4 and enduro with Pro GT3 and manufacturer.”
M Motorsport team owner and driver Justin McMillan saw GT4 as a way to expand his business and found GT4 more amateur driver friendly.
“Mainly I felt a bit uncomfortable in the GT3 last year with the amount of Professionals there and I thought GT4 was more my element, being an amateur. I think it’s the way ahead that’s for sure.”
McMillan agreed with McConville that he sees a strong future for GT4 in Australia, mainly down to the inexpensive running costs and the longevity of parts.
“It’s going to be the series to be in and particularly with this KTM,” said an excited McMillan.
“What we have found while testing so far is that it doesn’t wear out brakes, it doesn’t wear tyres and the four corners are Lambo corners anyway with bearings, spindles and uprights, so the wear of components are a lot less. The engine is a little two litre Audi engine, which is very cheap to run, cheap to replace. Holinger gearbox, so it’s local, it’s just a good car maintenance wise as well.”
Australian GT manager Ken Collier explains competitor demand was the key to including GT4.
“We keep a close eye on GT racing globally, so we’ve been aware of GT4 and its growth for some time. Our decision to include GT4 in the Trophy Series though is primarily competitor driven. We were approached by a number of parties interested in purchasing GT4 cars and so it was only logical to include them. Australian GT is the natural place for them and we’ve seen overseas how they can really add to the spectacle of the racing.”
GT4 is just starting to gain momentum in Europe after a rather lacklustre history, which involves a series collapse, bankruptcy and subsequent rebirth thanks to the creator of GT4, Stephane Ratel. Collier met with Ratel at the Bathurst 12 Hour and through a great relationship between Ratel and Australian GT will extend the collaboration into GT4.
“Stephane created the GT4 concept and his organisation SRO control the homologation and balanced of performance, explains Collier. “We have asked him to extend our collaboration of GT3 into GT4 and I believe we will work together to develop GT4 in Australia and find the right level of events to run the cars at.”
If any keyboard warriors want to question the viability of adding another category into Australia, should ask McConville and McMillan how much interest has been shown by potential customers.
“We had one car out before Christmas,” says McConville. “About eight guys tested and two have ordered and I’m confident we can sell another couple throughout the year.”
McMillan has had even more interest having put 10 potential customers through the car at Phillip Island before the 12 Hour while noted Ford tuner and distributor of Ford Performance parts, Rob Herrod is planning to distribute the new Ford Mustang GT4. The new car debuted successfully at Daytona and will be homologated and Balance of Performance tested at the end of the month in France.
Herrod has also had a fair amount of interest and thinks the formula will be a success.
“We don’t want to run the car, we just want to run it and support it,” explains Herrod. “It aligns us with what we do with Mustang because we are just building so many road cars, it’s insane and without putting any feelers out I have people ringing me and asking me [about the GT4].
“I think there is a bit of interest. Mustang is getting great interest here in Australia and I think it has its merits here in Australia, I really do.”
This year’s 12 Hour saw a larger field of GT4 cars than ever seen in the race before, while there are a number of older GT4 cars sitting in sheds that are still eligible to compete, with Collier seeing GT4s attraction as a low cost alternative to GT3.
“There’s been a lot of interest in GT4 in Australia, with a number of cars already in the country. Interest in GT4 I think comes from the fact, in terms of performance; the cars are still very quick. The cost of purchasing and running the cars is also lower, so it’s a more accessible way for competitors to go racing, and the drivers all say they’re good fun to drive.”
McMillan agrees finding the KTM a much easier and cheaper package than his previous Lamborghini.
“It’s reliable, its wear factor, it doesn’t use tyres because of its weight, the running costs are very small,” enthused McMillan. “It has automatic upshift, which is one less thing you have to think about, the turn in is quite good, the aero is quite good, especially here at Phillip Island. It’s just an easier car to drive than a GT3 car.”
Collier’s plans for the class is for it to compete with GT Trophy and, depending on car counts, the Australian Endurance Championship and with Ginetta, KTM, Aston Martin, Ford, Porsche and potentially Audi, all competing by year’s end there is the potential for GT4 to have the same amount of manufacturers as GT3. That’s the aim for Collier.
“We don’t necessarily know about every car in the country, so there could be cars out there that we just don’t know about. We hope the cars that are here come racing with Australian GT and that it generates interest to bring more cars into the country. We have nine different GT3 manufacturers competing this year so it’d be great to have the same sort of number in GT4 one day.”
Date posted: June 23, 2017