SRO Motorsports Group has canceled December’s Motul Sepang 12 Hours after receiving fewer entries than expected, thus crowning Audi and Markus Winkelhock the Intercontinental GT Challenge champions.
The Malaysian race was set to take place on Dec. 7-10 as the fourth and final IGTC round but SRO has been unable to secure a minimum of 20 entries.
The race is set to be replaced by the Suzuka 10 Hours next year, reducing the motivation and interest of Japanese teams to travel to Malaysia for this year’s Asian round of the IGTC, according to a statement from the organizers.
While it has not revealed how much interest it already had for the race, a statement from the SRO explained that it has “decided against running a 12-hour event featuring just over a dozen cars.”
“It’s been a very difficult decision,” said general manager Benjamin Franassovici.
“Obviously we never want to cancel an event, and SRO certainly doesn’t make a habit of it, but we feel this is the only realistic option available to us less than six weeks before the race is due to take place.
“SRO rightly considers an endurance event featuring less than 18 cars unviable. It’s also important to retain the Sepang 12 Hours’ spectacle, and – given the present situation – I don’t think that would have been possible in 2017.
“Cancelling suitably ahead of time is therefore considered a more responsible option than staging a high-profile endurance race below capacity.”
Audi, Winkelhock Crowned IGTC Champions
With the final IGTC round canceled, Audi and Winkelhock have been confirmed as manufacturers’ and drivers’ champions based on the results from the previous three races at Bathurst, Spa and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Winkelhock won both the Total 24 Hours of Spa and California 8 Hours, amassing 50 points despite not scoring at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February.
His closest title rival was fellow Audi driver Christopher Haase who won at Spa alongside Winkelhock but finished second at the California race.
After winning two of the three races, Audi has wrapped up the manufacturers’ title with 87 points and a healthy margin of 29 points over Porsche.
“Here at the SRO Motorsports Group, we would like to congratulate Audi on winning their second consecutive manufacturers’ title,” said Stephane Ratel.
“By fully supporting local teams, Audi Sport has shown that the Intercontinental GT Challenge is the way forward, and we are convinced that we will see even more manufacturers do the same in 2018.”