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Changing The History Of Sportscar Racing - Where Would We Be Now?

I have pondered this in my head for a while. It’s a simple proposition in theory, but one that opens up a multitude of complex possibilities. The hypothetical situation is as follows: Where would we be if GC had not died at the end of 1989?

For those unaware, GC is the shorthand term for the Grand Champion Series - formerly known as the Fuji Grand Champion Series (or 富士グランドチャンピオンレース) - a Japanese championship created for 2.0 litre Gr.B6 sportscars which held its first ever race in the April of 1971. GC is a part of sportscar racing which has seemingly fallen into an odd void in the minds of fans and enthusiasts, yet I find its charm and appeal to be rivaled by very few other championships throughout history.

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Firstly, however, we need to establish what happened to it. That part isn’t particularly hard - costs had risen, grids were dropping off, and attendance was down. The competition from the other two Japanese sportscar championships operating at the time, the FLDS/JEC and JSPC, meant there was ample opportunity for fans to turn elsewhere for their action.

However, both of these series accommodated Group C cars - and what was left peaked just as Group C as a whole was facing an international collapse. In 1992, the JAF decided to begin dissolving what remained of the JSPC, and used the relegated lower classes as the basis of their new series - this was christened the JGTC. This left sports prototype racing out in the cold in Japan, and in the rest of Asia too - to this day, no series has been successfully established to live up to the heights of the original glory days.

With that in our minds, let us switch back to the final years of GC. Our hypothetical scenario hinges upon one key thing - GC, no matter its dwindling entries and worse for wear appearance, must survive for three more seasons. With that in effect, we bring the year back to 1992 - the Group C battle in the JSPC is tired, and the JAF realise they need to turn to something else. GC is a viable option for them to consider - by merging the lower JSPC classes with the series, we would see replenished grids and new interest from fans, and the JAF, crucially, would see no reason to create the JGTC.

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In modern day terms, this means that Super GT is eliminated from history.

Moving on from that, 1994 will see the international Group C collapse - sportscar racing is in a dire state after booming golden years of manufacturer competition and global success. All series running the cars will be redundant - that means most are wiped off the board instantly. However, GC is still running the 3.0 litre single-seater based formula, and is therefore unaffected. It still continues to soldier on, whilst the rest of the racing world scrambles for a quick fix. What did they come up with? GT1. With our history lesson, they may have also just as easily taken another route - invest in the sole surviving prototype-based sportscar series still running, and adopt the regulations to the best of their ability.

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Of course, this is only a very simple train of thought, with many technicalities and other possibilities omitted - it is, of course, impossible to truly predict what else could have happened. It would only get more complex after this, as GT1 may never have taken place - the 3.0 litre hypothetical formula may have long continued throughout time, evolving, changing, or even dying out shortly after. However, without GT1, sportscar racing would not endure its second big collapse of the decade. GT1 may have come in the early 2000s, with heavy Japanese investment - if we say that everything from then on repeated the same cycle, we may be currently living through the mid-life stages of a mutant manufacturer-dominant LMGTP/LMP675/LMP900 era. It’s nothing short of a confused mess to try and picture - the permutations, the possibilities, the flow of every series expanding and living through life cycles in a different time period. That makes the whole article sound almost pointless. It sounds even more so when you consider the fact that any change in a racing series would ultimately have a very large impact on who and what is involved in motorsport as we see it today. That isn’t the main point, though - it’s a far more staggering thought.

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If GC - that one, forgotten, national championship had have lasted just 3 more years - then Super GT, GT1, GT2, GT3, LMGTP, LMP675, LMP900, LMP2, LMP1, LMP1-H, LMP3 and GTE may be vastly different to how they are now - and it’s a possibility that the majority, and by chance maybe all, would never have come into existence at all.

Some may say it was a Godsend - others may rue the opportunity for a far more intriguing outcome. One thing is for certain: GC shaped motorsport as we know it today.

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