In any normal year by the second weekend of May the GT World Challenge Europe would be well into its season. Two endurance events would have taken place at Monza and Silverstone whilst the sprint category would have already competed at Brands Hatch. Instead, in this extraordinary year, we find ourselves waiting for the season to start and wondering what might have been.
The Intelligent Money British GT Championship would also be well underway with the teams due to visit Snetterton this very weekend for the second meeting in the series following the Easter weekend opener at Oulton Park. Instead, all we can do is wait and speculate over revised calendars which this week were published by SRO.
The British GT calendar dropped first with few surprises. Oulton Park will open the season on August 2nd followed by two other events crammed into a month which is usually relatively quiet in motorsport terms. The first of two visits to Donington Park follows on August 16th which will feature a one-hour sprint race followed by a two-hour enduro. Brands Hatch keeps its scheduled date at the end of the month and stays as a two-hour race.
The second visit to Donington is also as scheduled but includes extra track time to make up for the loss of Spa-Francorchamps. The traditional two-hour season finale will now run to three hours and is also no longer the season finale with that honour going to Silverstone which will host the final three-hour race on a potentially chilly November 8th.
The only fly in Donington’s ointment is that the September date now clashes with the rescheduled Le Mans 24 Hours. However, if the weather is good and restrictions on gatherings relaxed it may play well for fans who might be reluctant to travel too far abroad. For drivers it may be more of a challenge so being in the middle of the season it’s possible this round could see some key drivers missing from the grid.
This weekend’s Snetterton race is now scheduled for October 4th, a date which is still showing as being filled by the GT Cup Championship and which highlights the difficulties of rescheduling multiple championships at a limited amount of venues. Unfortunately, there will always be some casualties although in the unlikely event that British GT chooses to share its weekend with GT Cup it’s likely that few fans would complain.
Speaking of whom, will fans actually be allowed to attend any of these meetings? With two and half months to the opening round at Oulton Park and with lockdown restrictions slowly easing it still seems inconceivable that a large amount of people will be allowed to gather to view the restart and questions remain even as to how many media or team personnel will be allowed to attend.
Few would complain if restrictions are still in place but ultimately all rounds will be shown live across SRO’s YouTube and social media feeds which would be some compensation for fans starved of their favourite sport.
GT World Challenge
The GT World Challenge Europe revised calendar followed a day later and the most notable absences must be the Brands Hatch sprint race and Silverstone endurance. With the majority of teams based in mainland Europe, this was a decision to keep travel to a minimum as well as perhaps also being a victim of fixture congestion in the UK.
As a result, Italy gets an endurance and a sprint race at Imola and Misano respectively whilst Monza – located in the heavy-hit Lombard region – is dropped. The season also starts a little earlier with the teams heading to Imola on July 26th. Considering how badly affected Italy was by COVID-19 it almost seems inconceivable that the country could host two races at the start of the season. Yet this weekend the Italian authorities have announced the lifting of international travel restriction from June 3rd so hopefully the way is open, albeit perhaps without spectators, for the season to commence.
September proves to be a busy month for the series with a six-hour race at the Nürburgring on the 6th of September which is followed by Sprint Cup events at Magny-Cours in France on the 13th of September and on the Dutch coast at Zandvoort on the 27th.
In October, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya hosts three one-hour races before the show piece 24 Hours of Spa which has been rescheduled to the 22th through 25th of October. The season ends back in France with the 6 Hours of Paul Ricard scheduled for November 15th.
It goes without saying that at this point nothing is set in stone and all dates are provisional. With a potential second wave of the disease hitting Europe later in the year more disruption is likely but in the meantime we can only hope to see some of our favourite cars and drivers out on track with the majority of fans grateful for any scrap of track action they can get.