Berger: “Seeing the Dream Race actually happen made me emotional”

Gerhard Berger, ITR Chairman

Gerhard Berger, ITR Chairman

For ITR Chairman Gerhard Berger, last month’s SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race was the culmination of a dream that began many years ago. By bringing together Europe and Japan’s premier GT/Touring Car series – and, from next year, running them beneath common technical regulations, the Austrian hopes to start building an international series that can race – either separately or collaboratively – on multiple continents.

The Dream Race isn’t the end of something; it’s the beginning. Here, Berger elaborates on the progress achieved so far, and the next steps both DTM and SUPER GT need to take for the future.

Gerhard, what were your first impressions of the SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race at Fuji?

“Honestly, when I stood on the starting grid and saw all the different manufacturers’ cars arriving – the different colours, the brand names – it made me emotional. At that point, I knew that it had been worth it – all the effort, the planning, the difficulty: I knew that this is what we needed to do, where we needed to go as a category. I was 100 per cent certain. And it felt great.”

What’s the next stage in the collaboration with SUPER GT?

“First, it’s never easy to organise an event like the Dream Race – it required a huge amount of planning and effort, and the logistics were very difficult – but it was certainly worth doing.

“In Europe, we have a tendency to try and take two steps at once; the Japanese maybe try and tread a little more carefully and think twice before acting – it’s a cultural issue, but not a very big one; we can manage it.

“First, we need to go away and analyse the data from both Hockenheim and from Fuji – communications and media, costs, logistics – and then we can look at what we need to improve, what we need to do differently, and how we take the next step.”

Do you have a plan in place for the next Dream Race?

“We have some objectives, yes. We’d like to have more than seven DTM cars – I think a full grid of SUPER GT cars and a full grid of DTM cars would be the next step. Then, we need to think about where we would do it. In Japan again? In Germany? Or in a third country? It’s all possible – we’ll look at how we can make it work logistically and then decide.”

How important has this race been to showcase the ‘CLASS 1’ regulations to potential new manufacturers?

“If I were a manufacturer, I’d recognise that bringing these series together, and tuning the performance properly, would make this perhaps the most spectacular motorsport category after Formula 1.

“Of course, making it happen is much harder – but there’s no doubt that this is impressive.

“‘CLASS 1’ can also offer something more to the manufacturers: they can have one programme that operates across two continents, which makes more financial sense. That’s an ongoing discussion we are having with them. It would be great to see some Japanese cars running in Europe in DTM, and DTM manufacturers racing in Japan.”

What’s next for the ‘CLASS 1’ regulations?

“We want to further develop the rules and regulations. There are lots of issues, but we’re working closely with [SUPER GT Chairman, Masaaki] Bandoh-san in Japan.

“As we’ve seen in Japan, these things take a long time. We need to proceed step by step. Maybe we’ll have a better answer to that question in a couple of years.”

Final thoughts?

“It’s fantastic to see what started out as an idea many years finally reach fruition. We showed in Japan that this was the right idea. After this event, I hope we can all learn from this experience, put it to good use, improve and move forward.

“I definitely see a big future in this type of racing.”

SUPER GT Chairman, Masaaki Bandoh & ITR Chairman, Gerhard Berger

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