- Jan 17, 2015
Around 2010 I started watching more and more rally championships in Belgium, Holland, Germany and France and one thing I noticed was the ever growing presence of GT cars, like the Porsche GT, Nissan 350z, and members of the BMW M class. Once I saw the aggressive looking and violent sounding machines, the gears in my head started working and I often thought, “Wouldn’t these cars do great in the WRC?"
Then it happened. In 2014 a most monumental announcement was made by the FIA - the proposal for a championship using GT cars was accepted and the 2015 R-GT Cup was made. This championship allowed owners of GT Cup cars to become a part on the world of rallying at the top level and was slated to incorporate both the World Rally and European Rally Championships with a total of five Rounds this year.
This meant that my dream as well as the dream of all rally fans would come through. Rally fans, being some of the most nostalgic fans in existence have always dreamed of rear wheel drive naturally aspirated cars making a return - and now they have. The return to the top levels of rallying wasn't without stumbling blocks as Tuthill Porsche, one of the most famous Porsche Rally car builders in the United Kingdom proposed a gravel set up for the cars which was rejected due to some technical issues back in November.
This year the R-GTCup, as stated before has five rounds the already concluded Monte Carlo Rally, and then it’s off to Belgium for the Geko Ypres Rally, the Rallye Deutschland, the Tour de Corse with the final round being the Rallye International du Valais. With the first Rally Monte Carlo done and dusted the championship is shaping up for its next round in June, with Former WRC works driver François Delecour in a Tuthill Porsche 911 Gt leading the pack after a dominant performance and 25 points, Romain Dumas second with 18 and Marc Duez with 15 both, driving a car similar to that of Delecour. Although the entry at the first round was poor by championship standards it offered a taste of what is yet to come this year and that is pure unadulterated fun, a sentiment that was used by Drive presenter Chris Harris when he got an opportunity to drive a Tuthill Porsche on the sweet lamb test course. Chris Harris said, “You won’t win the championship, but you’ll have the most fun”.
These cars bring back a “hey day” and introduces new fans to the visuals and sounds that old rally fans have been harping about for ages. And with this decision, the FIA has insured that the WRC gains longevity and more acclaim.
This is something the WRC needed and it couldn’t happen at a much better time. The WRC is finally regaining its former foothold and a place into the plans and calendars of car manufactures the world over and this new class presents even further options. Toyota has the Gt86 which is being homologated for the R3 class but the car can easily but upgraded to fit the R-GT regulations. Likewise, Subaru has the BRZ, Lotus has Exige which it introduced a few years ago at the Ypres Rally as a guest and Nissan already has GT cars in circuit racing.
Besides those, many more manufacturers have cars with the potential and once the WRC gets this fully sorted the R-Gt Cup should also include gravel events. This will mean the championship could equal - and even surpass what group 4 used to be. Given by the fan reaction to the cars at Monte Carlo, I’d say they had a great start.
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