Pre-season Newsletter 2007-02-02

SRO Announces The Citation GT1 Cup Non-professional drivers were behind the revival of GT racing in the 1990's. Racing themselves, funding development programmes or seats for professional drivers, they have long been the unsung heroes of ...

SRO Announces The Citation GT1 Cup

Non-professional drivers were behind the revival of GT racing in the 1990's. Racing themselves, funding development programmes or seats for professional drivers, they have long been the unsung heroes of the category, often taking a back seat while the stars take the glory. In recent years, the number of true non-professionals has dwindled in the FIA GT Championship, as it has become steadily more competitive, and established endurance stars, former Formula One or stars from other single-seater categories have dominated the grid.

For 2007, SRO will take a step towards re-establishing the balance between professionals and non-professionals with the formation of the Citation GT1 Cup. Running within the GT1 category of the 2007 FIA GT Championship, the Citation GT1 Cup will have a separate classification and podium for the eligible cars.

Thanks to the support of Cessna Corporation, manufacturer of the famous Citation business jets, the winners of each round will receive a credit of three flying hours in a Citation, while the winner of the season will be awarded an outstanding prize. The Citation Cup will be limited to eight rounds, excluding Zhuhai and Spa.

As, for non-professional drivers, the pure performance of the car is less of a prominent factor, the Citation GT1 Cup aims to welcome back some of the icons of GT racing. This could include the Ferrari 550 Maranello, Championship-winner between 2003 and 2005 but mainly absent from the grid in 2006, and also such cars as the Ferrari 575 M Maranello, the Lister Storm and earlier generations of the Saleen S7R.

To be eligible to take part in the Championship, the same criteria as used in the FIA GT3 European Championship will be applied. Drivers are classified as Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on their career record and age. Only drivers adhering to the Gold, Silver or Bronze classes may compete in the GT1 Citation Cup; Gold class drivers may only drive alongside Bronze class drivers.

The Citation logo will also be seen on the cars taking part in the FIA GT3 European Championship, as the aim of the Citation Cup will be to bring the winner of the FIA GT3 European Championship to GT1 or GT2, with a budget of 150,000 euros, to which will be added the free supply of Michelin tyres in the FIA GT Championship for the following year (up to 40 sets).

"The Cessna aircraft company is delighted to be associated with the 2007 FIA GT Championship and the Citation Cup. We believe that there is strong marketing synergy between the aviation and motor car racing industries," commented Trevor Esling - Vice President International Sales, Cessna Corporation. Stephane Ratel, Chairman of SRO, promoter of the FIA GT Championship, commented: "The combination of racing a GT1 car and flying to the event in a Citation jet would be rightly considered to be the ultimate lifestyle. Speed, technology, efficiency and luxury are values common to both industries. This is the perfect partnership!"

As part of this agreement, a high-level hospitality unit will cater for both the competitors in the Citation GT1 Cup and the guests of the Cessna Corporation.

NEW PRIZE FUND FOR GT3 CHAMPION

SRO, Michelin and Citation have announced that the winner of the 2007 FIA GT3 European Championship will be awarded a prize-fund in order to allow him, or her, to move up to the FIA GT Championship in 2008. A fund of 150,000 euros, plus a season's worth of free tyres from Michelin (limited to 40 sets for the season) , should allow the new Champion to move up to the next category. "We believe this is an excellent initiative, which really allows us to set up a coherent pathway through GT racing, from GT4 through to the stars in the GT1 category," Stephane Ratel, Chairman of SRO, commented.

FIRST TV NEWS FOR 2007

With the growth of the FIA GT Championship and the reduction of the race length, SRO is delighted to confirm a very significant increase of the TV coverage for the 2007 season. This includes a deal with DSF in Germany to show all the events either live or sameday delayed. DSF is Germany's leading sports network, present in over 90% of German homes.

In Belgium, another important market, RTL will show the half-hour highlights in primetime, while RTBF1 will broadcast news after each race. In Italy, all races will be shown live on Sky Italia.

In France, Sport + will broadcast a 52-minute edited programme. Live deals are still to be announced in both the UK and France. In the Netherlands, live coverage will continue on Sport 1.

SRO is also pleased to announce new live agreements of all rounds in Portugal, on the leading cable network Sport TV,and and in Russia on the terrestrial network 7 TV.

A major new deal will see the 52-minute highlights programme broadcast on Zee in India, reaching over 70 million homes. In the Middle East, it will be seen on ART (the Arab Radio and Television Network), and all over South America on Speed. The combination of these various channels will give the FIA GT Championship a global reach of over 200 million homes, such as it has never enjoyed before. The list below shows all the deals which have already been confirmed for 2007; many more are still under negotiation and we hope to announce them shortly.

OFFICIAL TEST SESSION - MONZA

The Official Test days, on February 22nd and 23rd, are open to cars competing in the FIA GT Championship, FIA GT3 Eruopean Championship, GT4 European Cup and ADAC GT Masters.

DATE CHANGE FOR FIA GT3 SEASON FINALE

The FIA GT3 European Championship will be holding its season finale at the impressive Dubai Autodrome in November 2007.

The date for this event has been changed from November 3rd to November 10th in order to avoid a clash with another major FIA event, the UAE Desert Challenge, which is a round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

ZHUHAI UPDATE

The first round of the 2007 FIA GT Championship will take place at the Zhuhai International Circuit in the People's Republic of China, on March 24th and 25th.

-credit: fia/gt

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Stéphane Ratel