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Stephane Ratel talks GT1 races, brands and GT2 revamp

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Stephane Ratel outlined the targets for growth ahead of 2011, aiming to bring the SRO organised FIA GT1 World Championship to new countries with new brands represented on the grid.

The major news from the announcement, made at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, was that Ratel and his organisation are in contact with promoters in both America and China.

“We want to bring the championship in to the biggest markets,” explained Ratel. “The fastest expanding markets and all of the main markets such as the US. Next year we have worked as a priority to take GT1 to the North America, we have ongoing contacts in the US and in Canada.”

“Our second market, the fastest growing market on the planet is China. We have had extremely good contact with China and we are working hard to take the championship there.”

He reassured that “most” of the events in the inaugural season would continue, though he admitted that the number of events in Europe would decrease as the series introduced more races around the world.

However, Ratel confirmed that this year may see an additional race in Europe after planned race on a Durban street circuit, had to be postponed because of issues with the homologation of the track.

He confirmed the initial plan was to re-use the track used by the A1GP series, but “They [Durban] destroyed part of the circuit to construct a World Cup football stadium,” he said. “So a new design was done and then the FIA became much more careful on the street circuit design and after various communications it needed a complete re-design of the circuit to make it happen.”

The Circuito de Navarra in north-western Spain has been lined up as a replacement with an event on 24-25 October, a fortnight before the intended Durban event.

Ratel also gave the clearest indication yet he expects a BMW on the 2011 under the management of Aurora Racing Designs, offering Alpina B6 cars to customers as a private project, which Ratel described as similar to the Matech squad, which builds its own Ford GT machinery in this year's championship.

The final announcement, on the weekend of the Spa 24 Hours, was that next year will see a revamped GT2 series. Still including the Belgian endurance race, Ratel suggested other races maybe added, specifically mentioning Monza and Nurburgring.

All races, like the weekend 24 Hours would be open to multiple classes – GT2, GT3, GT4 and GTN – though only an FIA GT2 European Championship may be available in terms of titles.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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