The cutting-edge of alternative automotive propulsion is set to be tested by the oldest competition format in motorsport history, city-to-city racing. During the annual SRO Motorsports Group press conference, Stéphane Ratel revealed that the planned inaugural round of the GT Experimental World Tour in 2023 is a revival of the 1901 Paris-Berlin race.
The GT Experimental World Tour (or GTX) aims to showcase state-of-the-art alternative fuel vehicles to a mainstream audience. It is planned that the World Tour will only be initially open to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, with hydrogen and autonomous vehicle categories scheduled to be introduced in future years. GTX is targeting private customers as participants who want to enjoy their innovative machinery in unique events. The combination of an adventurous cross-country sightseeing journey and a diverse range of competitive contests is certainly a unique experience.
Based on a presentation from SRO, the format of the revival event would differ greatly from the original. Only run once in 1901, the Paris-Berlin was a straight-forward race over open public roads. The 749-mile road race was run over three days in three stages, roughly on a direct itinerary from Paris, France to Berlin, Germany.
The revived Paris-Berlin will meander on a nine-day journey across Europe. The route is laid out as far south as Lyon, France and as far southeast as Vienna, Austria. In total, there will be intermediate stops in at least 7 cities between the two European capitals. The event will feature four separate disciplines of motorsport, circuit racing, drag racing, hill-climbing and rallying.
This automotive quadrathlon is far more similar to the post-war editions of Tour de France Automobile and Giro d’Italia Automobilistico. While both motorsport versions of the Tour and Giro predate their more popular road cycling counterparts, neither race is run today. A more apt and contemporary example for comparison would be One Lap of America.
While the information announced so far doesn’t provoke the same sense of adventure and endurance competition as reading newspaper reports of original city-to-city races, the new Paris-Berlin seems promising. The GT Experimental World Tour seems promising as both a fascinating competitive event and an avenue of promoting alternative mobility.