20th Nov2012

European Invasion: GT3 comes to America!

by Michael Chandler

Hooray for the six of us who enjoy World Challenge!: Jalopnik broke the news that the glorious GT3 spec race cars of Europe will be racing in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge. What does this mean? Which cars are GT3s? Who has the edge: the WC GT cars or the GT3s? Let’s start by introducing our new guests’ family.

Photo credit: Getty Images

GT3 started out as a production based Pro-Am series, fielded by privateers in customer cars. GT1 (C6.R, DBR9s) and GT2 (911 GT3 RSR, M3 GTs) reigned above GT3 for several years, until some things happened. Notably GT1 breathing its last breath. Now GT3 has sub classes for pro-pro and pro-am drivers, and is raced all over the world in various series: British GT, SUPER GT GT 300, Grand Am GT and some others.

Now that that’s covered, let’s talk about what kind of cars you’ll see in addition to the usual World Challenge GT fare.

(There are four classes in World Challenge, but we’re going to focus on the GT class because it’s the top tier class and is probably where the GT3 cars will land)

Photo credit: Mark Weber

The GT field has some serious metal: Cadillac CTS-V.Rs, 911 GT3 Cups, Audi R8s and… Volvo S60′s? Before you scoff at the Swedes just know they finished second in the manufacturer’s points behind Cadillac and ahead of Nissan, Corvette AND Porsche! It’s a stacked, and rather diverse field, but it’s not as deep as the GT3 field: 10 different models for WC GT compared to 13 for GT3. And whereas the WC GT field features (dare I say) pedestrian fare, the GT3 field has more exotics. 458s, Gallardos, even Ford GTs are still legal and McLaren announced the MP4-12C GT3 recently. Almost seems unfair…

Where will they fit in? Who knows. As it stands we just know the GT3 cars are coming and the World Challenge cars will be legal in other series across the world. What may happen is they new cars will push the current cars out like they did in GT 300, which would be sad because the current cars are pretty cool. Or they may create a new class for them, or they might just all get along. Either way, we’re gonna see some awesome match ups.

photo credit: hkedwardtong on flickr

Lets take a look at the top two GT cars against the top two GT3 cars we end up with CTS-V.R vs. SLS AMG and S60 vs. 458. One is far more interesting than the other: the one with the Volvo. Why? Because the S60s have beat out 430GTs, R8s and 911s, so out gunning a 458 isn’t too far fetched.

We’ll also get to see how Cadillac stands up to international competition, and then there will be McLarens against Lamborghinis and Aston Matrins. It’ll be like Forza or Gran Turismo or the SPEED channel, except in person and with other races! This is a golden age my friends.

Now if only we can get the Trans Am series going again…

Words by Michael Chandler, photos as credited.  Special thanks to Fred Smith, aka @porsche914yr74 on twitter and on Jalopnik for his article where I got the information about GT3

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