“If you want to be considered a sports car manufacturer, you have to be engaged in motorsport – and at a high level. It is not about trying to sell cars today, but about investing in your reputation and your heritage. To keep those things alive requires you to compete in motorsport with a clear strategic goal to do just that.”
Just minutes after hearing those words from Porsche’s head of research and development, Wolfgang Hatz, I read about the emerging plans for a Jaguar F-type GT3 racer. Hatz’s words now resonated with even greater clarity – not least the bit about a sports car maker needing to compete in racing to justify its credentials.
Jaguar, of course, has great heritage both as a sports car manufacturer and in racing. But in recent years its racing forays from Formula 1 to American sports car racing have been wretched. Indeed, its only glory has come from historic racing, where it has served only to prove what the firm was once capable of.
Trouble is, Jaguar faces the dual task of first proving it can compete with the F-type in GT3 racing against the likes of Porsche, which is hardly short of match practice, and then trying to move up the competition ladder. The ultimate goal, you would have to assume, is to compete at the very top level of the World Endurance Championship (WEC). With Porsche and Audi slugging it out there, alongside Toyota and soon Nissan, how could they not?