GT racing has come a long way and throughout every era, legends and icons were made and had etched themselves in the history books. Legends like McLaren F1 GTR, Maserati MC12, and Aston Martin DBR9 needs no introduction, and the fanboy in us can hardly contain our excitement if we ever saw these examples in real life.
Luckily, such a day actually came into reality.
Enter this race called the SRO 30th GT Anniversary by Peter Auto. To those who are not familiar with these names, SRO or the Stephane Ratel Organization is an international sporting organization responsible in organizing races like the Fanatec GT World Challenge, and the recent Total 24 Hours of Spa. Peter Auto on the other hand, is a synonymous name in organizing historic races at venues like Le Mans with the main highlight being some iconic machines from the past.
Put them up together and you get one of the best ways to celebrate SRO’s involvement in the international GT racing scene. 30 years to be precise.
And on this monumental achievement, Peter Auto definitely did not hold back in bringing some of the most iconic faces in GT racing. What felt like a trip down memory lane was brought back into a full visual and aural experience as these machines was put more than just in static display – they even raced these cars on the 7.004km circuit!
Let us start with the class that brought us some of the best race cars we have seen from the yesteryears, the GT1. The GT1 class was created in 1994 and continued to race until 2011. In those 17 years, some iconic cars had took the track and here was what that caught our eyes in the outing.
Aston Martin DBR9
The DBR9 debuted in 2005 and was actively involved in GT1 racing until 2011. The name was derived from the Le Mans-winning car, the DBR1, but the DBR9 has its own legacy as well, as it took two LMGT1 class wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007 and 2008. The car was made by Aston Martin and Prodrive, housing a 6.0-liter V12 that pushes out 625BHP.
The sound? You can bet that the V12’s soundtrack was more than orgasmic.
Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV
The Aston was not the only V12 screamer on the track as Lamborghini also howled through the forest with their Murcielago R-SV. The R-SV was based on the road-going LP670-4 SV which houses a more powerful 6.5-liter V12 with 670PS, without restrictors of course.
The predecessor R-GT was in attendance as well, but do not make a mistake of thinking this version is less menacing in any way. Developed jointly with Reiter Engineering and Audi Sport, the R-GT won Lamborghini’s first international GT race at the 2007 Zhuhai 2 Hours, with the second win clinched at 2009 1000KM de Catalunya.
Dodge Viper GTS-R
While you do not see a lot of American cars joining the GT racing grid, the Dodge Viper had a long and successful track record during its days. The Dodge Viper GTS-R was developed in conjunction with Chrysler, Oreca, and Reynard Motorsport, so this is not just a big American car with a huge engine in front.
Over the years of racing, it has secured some significant overall victories in races like the 24 Hours Nurburgring and Spa 24 Hours, as well as class victories in Le Mans and Sebring.
Maserati MC12 GT1
Talking about GT1 cars is never complete if we do not touch on the dominant force in the class – the MC12. The road-going version is already a great machine that turns heads wherever it goes, and the racing version does it even better.
Not only the MC12 GT1 looks beautiful and menacing, it also dominated the scene by winning the FIA GT Championship from 2005 until 2011. Along the way, it also won the Spa 24 Hours three times! It could probably win at Le Mans as well, but unfortunately we could only leave that to theories and our imagination as the ACO did not allow the MC12 to compete in it.
Nevertheless, there were three examples that took the track under this event, and the V12 concerto played by these beautiful machines were unmatched.
Unfortunately, not all GT1 cars that came went on the track, but even having them on display was already a surreal experience. Cars like the Lamborghini Diablo GT1 and Ford GT GT1 were just instant classics and the McLaren F1 GTR Long Tail? That is a whole different level.
Now that we have covered GT1, let us move on to the GT2 machines. It was a Porsche fest in the GT2 tents as it was dominated by several 996s and 997s, a simple testament of how the 911 platform performed as a race car.
993 GT2 EVO
But before we go too far, we could not seem to divert our eyes from the sole 993 GT2 Evo that flew around the circuit. If this was indeed one of the early units, we just saw one of 11 examples ever made by Porsche to enter the GT1 category!
The driver will have to tame the 600 horses coming from the twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-six. That is a wild amount coming from a race car from the ‘90s!
With the 993 marking the end of the air-cooled Porsches, the 996 came into the picture with a whole lot of new stuffs to offer. New chassis, bodywork, engine, suspension, and cooling system, the racing version of the 996 GT3 had proved itself to be a formidable challenger in the GT racing scene.
The GT3-R, for starters, swept the 2000 FIA GT Championship to win the N-GT class on every run. Phoenix Racing also showed how capable the car was by winning the Nurburgring 24 Hours.
The modified version of the R, the RS, continued the momentum by prevailing against the more powerful prototypes at the 2003 Daytona 24 Hours. It also took the win at the 2003 Spa 24 Hours.
The 996 RSR also has a badge of honour of its own when it won the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Sascha Maassen, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long behind the wheel.
997 GT3 RSR
To commoners, differentiating the 997 from the 996 will be a bit of a challenge as they look fairly similar to one another. But the 997 GT3 RSR does look different from its predecessor, as well has having its own legacy.
Now with a displacement of 3.8-liters and an output of 465-horsepower, the car went on to bring Porsche’s name to great heights. From 2007-2011 with the exclusion of 2010, Manthey Racing took top honours at the Nurburgring 24 Hours in this vehicle!
Ferrari F430 GTC Evo
Like the 993 GT2 EVO, only a handful of the Ferrari F430 GTC EVO were made. And this car did not just stand out for its rarity, or being the only Ferrari in the field. Back in the 2006 Spa 24 Hours, the F430 GTC EVO not only took the win in the GT2 category, but also secured the remaining podium spots!
And finally, the GT3s. Some of you might have seen them racing in Sepang, especially in the days where the Sepang 12 Hours were still around. We could still hear the rumbles of Petronas Syntium Team’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 lapping the 5.543km circuit, such a memorable time.
Ever since Audi came up with the R8, it has been representing the Four Rings in motorsports in various occasions. And it must have been a proud moment for Audi as the R8 LMS Ultra did very well in races like the Nurburgring 24 Hours, securing multiple wins since it first raced in 2012.
Other than the Gallardo GT3 and the Vantage GT3 hyping up the crowd, a couple of Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06Rs also put on a show, bringing a variety of American machinery into the mix.
We are not sure if we are lucky enough to attend another race as epic as this line up, but for the time being, this has got to be one of our highlights. It was also a spectacle to see these machines not only being preserved as if they were just launched yesterday, but also pushed to the limits on the track and not spend their remaining lives as garage queens.