With over 20 years of experience in GT racing and now a multiple race-winner in the Fanatec GT2 European Series, Bert Longin is ideally placed to shed his light on the newcomer in the SRO portfolio.
Bert Longin is one of the stalwarts in the championships organised by the SRO Motorsports Group. From an N-GT Freisinger Porsche (the ‘original’ GT2) at the beginning of the century, over GT1 cars like the Ferrari 575, Corvette (both the C5R and C6R) and Saleen to the iconic Maserati MC12 in the FIA GT1 World Championship: the Belgian racer/entrepreneur raced them all.
When SRO created the Blancpain Endurance Series, Longin followed suit and even became a works Audi driver for the 2011 24 Hours of Spa. After his stint for Team WRT, Longin switched to the BMW Z4 GT3 of Marc VDS Racing, becoming the only driver who has raced for both Belgian squads.
This year 55-year-old Longin started a new adventure. Together with Peter Guelinckx he entered the new Fanatec GT2 European Series. At the wheel of the PK Carsport Audi R8 LMS GT2 the Belgian duo already claimed two wins.
Bert, could you compare the current GT2 cars with the GT3 cars?
“I don’t think that’s possible. In my opinion GT2 cars are much more like GT1 cars. GT2 is based on plenty of power on the rear axle, just like a GT1 machine. Modern GT3 cars are all about aerodynamics.
“I had a closer look at those impressive machines during the recent GT World Challenge meeting in Misano, and they’re all about aero. Front, rear, up, down, even the wing mirrors are sculpted now. Of course, every race car has a certain degree of aero, but not to that extent. That’s why the current GT2 is much more akin to the older GT1 cars.”
What’s the potential of this new GT2 series?
“I’m convinced it will turn out to be an enormous success. There are a couple of reasons for that. In some cases, the running cost of a GT2 car is less than half of that of a GT3 machine. That makes this formula very interesting.
“The cars are obviously very good-looking as well. I get reactions from all over the world, from people wanting to know how it is to drive an Audi GT2. They’re real racing cars, and you really have to make an effort to go fast and be at the front.”
And the Pro-Am formula?
It’s very attractive as well. Gentleman drivers find the racing budgets quite reasonable, and with some good guidance they can compete at the front of a championship and win races. That is in stark contrast with GT3, where Am drivers are fighting for 40th position overall, in complete anonymity.
“But the most important reason why this series will be a success is probably the fact that this is an SRO championship. I know Stephane Ratel well enough to say that if he wants something to succeed, it will succeed. Yes, it has been a difficult start for a new series, and the global health crisis does not help, but judging by the positive vibes in the GT2 paddock this series will grow. And will grow quickly.”
So SRO is the only organiser that could make this happen?
“No, of course not. But Stephane is the only one who has the guts to actually have a go at launching a new series, and do everything to make it work.
“Just look at his track record. Sure, it’s been difficult at times, but in the end he reaps the rewards of his efforts.”
Is there a secret for competing at the front of the Fanatec GT2 European Series?
“The Am driver needs to be the best driver he can be. Through coaching you can get long way, but an Am driver also has to learn how to remain faultless during the whole of the race. In short: go fast, without taking too many risks.
“But it’s the responsibility of the Pro driver to help the Am driver in succeeding. When I see a Pro driver arrive at the circuit, get in the car, do his laps, complain a lot and leave – without helping or coaching his Am team-mate – I can’t stop laughing. They are never going to win races that way.”