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The sign of four

What is GT4?
The Blancpain GT Series uses state-of-the-art GT3 cars, putting out around 500 horsepower each. Naturally, all those horses take some getting used to, which is why there’s a formula that slots in immediately below it: a bit like Formula 2 compared to Formula 1®.
The GT4 cars tend to look very similar to the GT3 cars, but performance is slightly lower, in order to provide a natural career ladder towards the top of the sport.
So far, 15 different cars have been homologated for use in the GT4 category, from some of the prestige and premium manufacturers seen in GT3, but also from other manufacturers who produce competition cars only for GT4.
These often have a long motorsport heritage of their own: for example, Lotus – one of the most evocative names in circuit racing – which has homologated the Evora GT4. 
Ginetta is another manufacturer that makes cars only for GT4. Equally, there are some models that are bespoke to GT4 competition: Porsche is of course represented in GT3 with the iconic 911, but the Cayman model is unique to GT4.
On the other end of the scale, GT4 competition has also allowed new manufacturers to make their first steps into motorsport. Austrian manufacturer KTM has had huge success with cross country motorbikes but has only been producing track day cars recently, with the launch of its innovative X Bow. Homologating a GT4 example has proved to be the ideal method to promote it. In keeping with the philosophy of the series – and of Pirelli – GT4 has proved to be a perfect way of developing young drivers as well. Because of that, the Pirelli Junior Cup has been introduced this year, to reward drivers aged between 16 and 26. 

Enter Audi
The most recent manufacturer to announce a GT4 car has been Audi: one of the names synonymous with endurance racing. The German giant revealed the new R8 LMS GT4 at the New York Motor Show recently, which uses 60% of the parts of the road-going version of the R8 to keep costs down. As Audi Sport CEO Stefan Winkelmann put it: “It's a category that’s getting more important worldwide in championships, and that’s why we’re betting on it.”
Audi aren’t the only ones: BMW and Mercedes are also currently developing brand new GT4 cars, which will be launched this year for a debut next year.
In keeping with the ethos of GT racing as a whole, the drivers are a mix of professionals and gentleman; providing a valuable way for young talents to get their hands on (fully-funded) state of the art racing equipment.
Some of the established names in GT4 include racers such as Alain Ferté (who has driven at Le Mans) and Gregoire Demoustier (who has been competing in the World Touring Car Championship). It also provides a way for new drivers to explore other forms of racing: Ginetta driver Robert Consani, for example, is best known for his exploits on the European Rally Championship – also using Pirelli tyres.

Easter eggs and Easter cups
During Easter, it’s traditional to exchange Easter eggs – and of course eggs very often need egg cups. So that’s why the ‘Coupe de Paques’ meeting at Nogaro in the extreme southwest of France is so appropriate as the first round of the European GT4 series.
More than 50 cars from six different manufacturers will take part, and to take full advantage of the Easter weekend, qualifying is on Saturday with two days of racing on Sunday and Monday. 
This year, the Coupe de Paques celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the drivers to have triumphed on the event in the past include Alain Prost, Jean Alesi and Stephane Ortelli. No pressure then…

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