SRO’s new GT2 Sports Club series appeals to those with a thirst for power

SRO’s new GT2 Sports Club series appeals to those with a thirst for power

SRO America

SRO’s new GT2 Sports Club series appeals to those with a thirst for power

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It’s easy to be skeptical when a new race series is announced, especially one where the cars start at $400,000 and go up from there. But if you’ve been to a track day in a prosperous part of the country or had the opportunity to visit one of the private motorsports country clubs such as Monticello in New York or The Thermal Club in California, you’ve likely seen plenty of people flogging supercars valued at a quarter-million dollars or more. As it turns out they, and not necessarily people currently racing GT3 or GT4, may be the big source of new racers for GT2 Sports Club America and similar series in other SRO theaters of operation.

GT2 was announced last year as a racing category for Bronze-rated drivers. The cars would have more power than their GT3 counterparts, in the 700hp neighborhood, but be heavier and have less downforce. It wasn’t long after that announcement that Porsche introduced its GT2 RS Clubsport (pictured above). At this year’s 24 Hours of Spa event in July, the first race was held as an all-Porsche affair. At the same event, Audi introduced its R8 LMS GT2 (pictured below). The cars have been priced around $70,000 to $100,000 less than their GT3 counterparts. And, at Spa, it was announced that there would be a GT2 Sports Club America series in 2020, accompanying Blancpain GT World Challenge and other SRO America series at Virginia International Raceway, Sonoma Raceway, Road America, Watkins Glen International and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In the category’s debut at Spa, SRO America regulars James Sofronas and Jason Bell participated. Sofronas also raced the Audi at Barcelona last month. Both drivers have experience in a variety of GT3 and GT4 machinery and could make good comparisons to both and explain GT2’s appeal.

“The direct comparison to the GT2 RS Clubsport would be the GT3 R,” says Sofronas. “I think the biggest thing I noticed right away was the Clubsport was easier to drive, and way easier to get a quick lap time out of it. It doesn’t need to be driven hard in the corners; you’re not at maximum cornering speed and g-loads with all the downforce [as in a GT3 car]. This car is more of a point-and-shoot, mega torque off the corners, so if you don’t get it right it kind of makes up for that.

“To do a fast lap in the Clubsport doesn’t require you to hustle it in the corners — it just won’t because it doesn’t have the downforce. The car moves a little bit more, it’s a little more compliant, it’s softer because it’s heavier, and in that regard it is easier because it won’t allow you to push it over the edge. So you’re just patient — you roll through the corners at a reasonable rate and the car just launches out of the exit.”

Like GT4, GT2 cars are much closer to their road-going counterparts, only instead of a Cayman, the Clubsport is based off the 911 GT2 RS. But unlike GT3 cars, which often have to be dialed back in power, they retain the full grunt of the production car engines. So, the drivers say, it’s kind of like a GT4 car with nearly twice the power.

“I wouldn’t say the handling is the same as a GT4 — it’s a little bit better, but not much. So it’s definitely unique to drive,” explains Bell. “I would say it’s in that realm. There’s not a lot of downforce on it, so it still takes a lot of technique to drive it.”

Bell already owns a GT2 RS Clubsport and plans to race it in the series next year. The lower expense to buy and run the car compared to GT3 is appealing to the racer who has been competing in GT4 for the past two seasons. Also attractive is the fact that he will be on track with other similar drivers, not mixed in with pros.

However, while racers competing in other categories will be one source of entrants for GT2 Sports Club, Sofronas says another is those who have been enjoying similar cars on track without the competition element. Sofronas is the owner of Global Motorsports Group, one component of which sells parts for and modifies high-end exotic sports cars and the other is the prep shop/race team that caters to customers like Bell. Some of GMG’s customers have raced in the past but now mostly play with track toys like that road-going GT2 RS, and some are people who spend a lot of time on track but haven’t raced. Both find the Clubsport very attractive and Sofronas has already sold six cars.

“For my particular customers, the interest has come from guys who are driving street cars on the track, like GT3 RSs and GT2 RSs, the street versions that we prep at our shop for track days,” he explains. “These guys don’t really want to race a Cayman; they’d rather race the counterpart to their track cars, and that’s where the Clubsport comes in. I’ve seen a lot of interest from these guys that are tracking their cars 20 times a year at The Thermal Club, and the next step up is racing. I’ve been showing them the Clubsport, and we’ve sold six of them. Half of those guys are coming from street-based track days — these guys are doing two, three hours a day on track — and they want to get into some form of racing. With GT2 being Bronze only, it’s a perfect steppingstone for them. They’re used to the power and performance, they’re not used to a lot of grip. I think this is a great option for them.”

Sofronas adds that he sees potential for 15 to 20 cars when the GT2 Sports Club America’s first scheduled race in June at VIR rolls around. The Porsche and Audi have already been on track, and one more was expected to be announced by the end of the year. Manufacturers rumored to be working on GT2 machinery include Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes-AMG.

 

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