2007 in Preview - FIA GT: Rebuilding into GT Popularity


By Sam Tickell

The GT1 competition will be tough in 2007
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI

After a rocky 2006, the FIA GT seems to have momentum going into 2007.

2006 saw a split with Eurosport and the WTCC, ensuring a decline in potential and actual TV viewership throughout Europe. New deals, however have seen at least some of problems associated with the WTCC/Eurosport split have been solved and the Championship moves into 2007 with some enthusiasm.

2007 sees the ‘Citation Cup’ – a competition for non-professional drivers. This Cup will be run across eight rounds and will feature GT1 spec. machines including the Corvette C6R and Ferrari 550. This will be addressed later in this article.

The series will be back with largely unchanged rules and a ten round season that starts in China in late March and extends until October with the final round being in Zolder, Belgium.

Enough about that, onto the competition:


GT1 in 2007 will be a remarkable contest. Returning will be the Maserati MC12, Corvette C6R, Lamborghini Murcielago and Aston Martin DBR9.

One noticeable absentee is the Saleen S7R. Campaigned by the legendary Zakspeed outfit in 2006, legal troubles surrounding this team has ensured that they will not return in 2007. A great shame for the team as great progress was made in 2006 with the new car.

It is understood that the cars will most likely be sold, however at this time a buyer is not coming forward.

This is also the case for the ACEMCO Saleen’s which were to be purchased by Dana Brewer to race in the FIA GT, but this fell through. This means that the FIA GT Championship will be minus full time Saleen S7R machines for the season.

But a welcome return to the series is the Pagani Zonda. This is the same car that raced briefly a few years ago and is returning in the hands of the Rock Media Group for the 2007 season.

It is likely that the car will take some time to become competitive. It could be a journey similar to the Lamborghini. There will be two of these cars competing in 2007 as the All-Inkl.com team expands to two cars. This car experienced some big developments in 2006 and if this commitment continues in 2007 they could soon become a serious contender for race wins in the new season.

Corvette will again be represented by the Carsport Holland and PSI Experience teams. Carsport Holland will team up with the Pheonix team to run a Corvette C6R and continue with the PK Carsport team running the older Corvette C5R.

Corvettes have won wherever they have raced and have proven strong in the 2006 FIA GT Championship. With the expertise of Pheonix, Carsport and PK coming together, these cars could pull off a surprise in 2007.

Where the Corvette’s may be on the rise for 2007, the Aston Martin entries could be on the decline. With Ford losing interest in the car maker and the development budget slashed for the car, improvements in the DBR9 could be non-existent in 2007.

However the recent purchase of Aston Martin for a whopping sum by Prodrive and investors could see this program get back on track

But those running the cars have a great base to build on. Barwell, Race Alliance and BMS Scuderia Italia will be running the cars. All are high profile teams with a great technological depth, something which they will have to call on if they are to stay in contention for the title.

Especially with the Maserati MC12 brigade returning with increased strength. Along the Championship winning Vitaphone squad are Playteam and JMB.

These cars will once again be the cars to beat in 2007. Playteam have experience from the Italian GT Championship and JMB have also run the cars before. The commitment from Maserati is still strong and this will make it very difficult for another manufacturer to win the 2007 title.

The Porsche 997 makes its full entry into the FIA GT in 2007. Tech 9 will be running one of these cars.
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI


GT2 will see a Panoz, Ferrari, Porsche battle with an occasional run from a Spyker.

The field looks similar to the one from 2006. Yes a few changes, a few upgraded Porsches but still essentially a similar field.

And that is not exactly a bad thing. The 2006 Championship was extremely hard fought with Scuderia Ecosse having the fastest car but not being able to transfer that into constant wins and results saw them lose out to AF Corse.

The dominate Ferrari’s from last year will be back. The Ferrari 430, the new car from last year will be more of a known quantity this year.

That being said, the Ferrari’s in the hands of Scuderia Ecosse will be very hard to beat. Most of the 2006 team returns with Chris Niarchos and Andrew Kirkaldy in one car and Tim Mullen is joined by former Aston Martin works driver, Tomas Enge in the other. This team has a formidable lineup and must be near favourites for the title – after all they did experience in the British GT in 2006.

The other full season Ferrari runners are AF Corse. After winning the GT2 title in 2006 the team will be strong but after playing driver politics at the end of 2006 their ‘level headedness’ must be questioned. They denied Matteo Bobbi a chance at the title after he made a mistake and took out Mika Salo.

The problem wasn’t that he took out Salo but rather that the team wanted Salo to win the title. So when this became impossible, the team didn’t celebrate a 1-2-3-4 in the driver’s title but rather cursed because the ‘golden boy’ didn’t win.

This also places a cloud over their 2007 season. They have a strong lineup with Dirk Muller and Stephane Ortelli in one car and Toni Villander and Gianmaria Bruni in the other. A strong lineup – but will politics play too big of a part?

Other Ferrari teams expected to compete include JMB and Edil Cris. Both could prove to be strong but whether they can consistanly compete with in GT2 remains to be seen. JMB will be distracted with their GT1 entry and Edil Cris have a less than proven driver lineup.

There is a new threat for Ferrari too as Porsche have replaced their aging 996 models with new 997 cars. BMS Scuderia Italia, Tech 9 and Ebimotors have a full season run ahead of them.

It is also expected that Felbermayr/Proton will enter a few races in their 997.

BMS Scuderia Italia will be the strongest of these cars with Emmanuel Collard racing for them. Tech 9 bring their GT3 winning driver combination up to GT2 with Sean Edwards and Leo Machitski driving for the team.

There is also expected to be some part season entries for the older 996 cars entered by ARC Bratislava and possible a possible by James Watt. These cars shouldn’t feature up at the front of the field but could play a good comparison game between the old and new cars.

There is also a full season entry by Gillet Vertigo and Belgian Racing. This car will enter the G3 race and probably will spend most of the season alone in that category.

Other part season entries will be from Spyker Squadron and their Spyker and LNT with their Panoz. Both will be strong and could take away important points from the other runners when they decide on FIA GT appearances.

But the year will be a close race between the Porsche and Ferrari machines and the winner will be dictated by how fast the Porsche cars get up to speed. Expect an exciting championship.

Citation Cup

This class, making its first appearance for non-professional drivers will be an interesting addition to the 2007 season. Already confirmed are a few Corvettes run by SRT and PSI Experience. Depending on how good the drivers actually are, these should set the pace. Other possible entrants include the Ferrari 550, Ferrari 575, Saleen S7R and Lister Storm.

The concept has been tried successfully in a different guise in the International GT Open. Here a few questions remain – who will commit and whether these drivers will hold up or make contact with the main championship drivers.

A good concept – hopefully it turns into a good race.

But there it is – the 2007 rundown. The FIA GT enters a building year after sliding backwards in 2006. They should be over the WTCC/Eurosport split and should be able to move forward.

The on track racing never diminished and 2007 should see a good fight. China is not far off, so let the racing begin!

The Pagani Zonda makes a welcome return in 2007
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI