On Thursday morning I shall board the Eurotunnel to Calais and drive the three-or-so hours through northern France and Belgium to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the heart of the Ardennes. This trip is the result of the work that we have been putting in for the past four months to broker an exploratory technical partnership between one of our clients and a leading GT team. Unfortunately I can’t go into more detail at the moment, but the technology will be applied to a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 which is well placed to compete for the overall win.

The Spa 24 Hours is a race that has grown in stature under SRO’s leadership and the level of manufacturer support is testament to its status in the motorsport world. This year will see works, or semi-works, entries from Audi, Mercedes, Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Nissan.

When setting up this partnership, we started from a completely clean slate, evaluating all options from F1 down to club racing. Our client’s decision to focus on endurance racing in general, and GT racing in particular, was a relatively easy one. As a supplier to automotive OEMs as well as motorsport teams and constructors, our client found that GT racing perfectly spans these two very different worlds in a way that single-seater racing simply can’t. The symbiosis goes deeper than the cosmetic. The Mercedes SLS GT3, for example, is manufactured by HWA which also works on specialist road car projects for Mercedes, as well as acting as a full service provider for the Mercedes DTM team. The 6.3 litre V8 in the SLS GT3 is taken from the AMG production line, ensuring complete fidelity between the road car and its racing sibling. For a company that uses the motorsport arena to develop its technologies, there is no better environment than this for research and development.

Too often, sponsorship deals are brokered and signed by marketing professionals on both sides who lack the understanding of both the technology and the sport. Unfortunately, this has led to deals that do not offer any real value for either party. The sponsor signs a cheque and gets a logo, which means little out of context, the CEO doesn’t see the required results and the deal is terminated. How many non-title F1 sponsors can you name? For technology firms, the ability to use a racing car as a working laboratory is priceless; in return they can offer performance gains and commercial opportunities. With a clear understand of what is needed from both sides, a true partnership can deliver consistent results. Of course motorsport is full of variables, as I am sure we will experience in Spa, let’s see if the theory works in practice – watch this space.

If you’d like to discuss any of the themes in this post please do get in touch or reach me on Twitter: @CJFosterUK.


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