In praise of the GT1 World Championship

Where can you watch Audis racing against Mercedes, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, BMWs, Aston Martins, Fords and McLarens? The answer is the GT1 World Championship.

Every wet dream is represented in this who’s who of sportscar manufacturers. Fantasy machinery battles wheel-to-wheel in GT1 like no other series.

The GT1 World Championship is not without its critics, as Dan Cross has already noted. But I, for one, take my hat off to Stéphane Ratel for the transformation the series has gone under in recent years.

Its predecessor, the FIA GT Championship, was as dull as ditchwater. Purists may sneer at the spunky new ‘sprint race’ format, which sees the event contested across two hour-long races held a day apart. But for my money, it is a much breezier and more accessible format. And it’s a lot more fun. I’m actually interested in watching it.

The television coverage has also improved immeasurably since the FIA GT days. Now there is a top-notch world feed with brilliant commentary from Jack Nicholls and John Watson. I am sure the latter is getting even better with age — he absolutely tells it like it is!

Best of all, if you struggle to find which channel it is broadcast on (and I don’t blame you), it is possible to watch it all for free on the web. All races are streamed live on YouTube. For me, it is setting the standard for live web coverage of motorsport.

OK, the calendar is a bit odd for this season. And, yes, it doesn’t have all of the world’s greatest drivers. But this season’s first round in France was promising in that it didn’t suffer from the crash-bang-wallop that dogged last season. And there are enough familiar names on the grid to signify that the quality is there.

The bottom line is that the cars are great, the action is thoroughly entertaining, and you can easily watch it on the web for free. This is why GT1 World Championship is now one of my favourite racing series.

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