Source: AutoWeek.comMcLaren could be tempted to supply cars for the 2012 FIA GT1 World Championship, thanks to a new rules shift proposed by series boss Stephane Ratel.
The British manufacturer had said during the launch of its MP4-12C GT3 racer in the summer that it would not support the use of the V8-engine car by any customer wanting to run in the world championship. But new rules being explored by Ratel that would make the series open exclusively to GT3 machinery could result in a change of stance by McLaren and development partner CRS Racing.
McLaren GT project manager Andrew Kirkaldy said, “We’ve been asked time and time again by Stephane to look at the world championship, but it wasn’t right for us. At the time of the launch, doing the world championship would have meant racing against GT1 cars and GTE cars, which was not doable as far as we were concerned.
“Some things that are happening could change that situation. If the championship was only open to GT3 cars, then why wouldn’t we want to do it?”
The French Hexis team, a front-runner in the GT1 world championship with Aston Martin, has confirmed that it is negotiating with McLaren. It is understood that the team or its backers has purchased a pair of MP4-12Cs.
Ratel met with the FIA at the end of last month to discuss doing away with the existing GT1 machinery and making the world championship GT3-only. This is the latest in the line of rule changes he has pushed through as he attempts to attract 10 teams running machinery from 10 manufacturers for next year.
The 2012 world championship was opened up initially to GT3 and GTE cars, which would have been performance-balanced with the existing GT1 cars. The possibility of running the cars from the GTE class was removed in September, at the same time the baseline of performance was shifted toward GT3 cars.
No final decision has been made, according to Ratel.
“There is nothing to confirm now,” he said. “It is just a discussion.”
Ratel’s latest move appears primarily motivated by a desire to change McLaren’s mind on supporting the world championship and securing Ferrari’s involvement. The Italian manufacturer had been committed to supporting the Vita4One team’s entry with a GTE-based 458 Italia, but Ferrari also does not want to race against GT1 machinery with the GT3 variant of the car.
Ratel appears to be hoping that the three teams originally planning to run GT1-spec cars next year will switch to GT3 machines. The All-Inkl.com Lamborghini squad has confirmed that it will run GT3 Gallardos in place of GT1 Murciélagos, but doubts remain over the JRM Nissan and Young Driver Aston Martin teams.
Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw said, “We support what Young Driver wants to do, and our understanding is that it wants to race in the championship with the DBR9 GT1 car as previously agreed. At this stage there are no plans to enter the championship with the our new GT3 [V12 Vantage].”
JRM has said it is still evaluating Ratel’s proposals. It had planned to run GT1 Nissan GT-Rs, but it is also developing a GT3 GT-R in conjunction with Nismo, the Japanese manufacturer’s motorsports division.