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SRO Cancels Sepang 12H; Audi, Winkelhock Win IGTC Titles

SRO cancels Sepang 12H after low interest; Audi, Winkelhock win Intercontinental GT Challenge titles…

Photo: SRO

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.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist focusing on European series for Sportscar365. Kilshaw was the founder of WorldSportsCar.co.uk and is a member of the Autosport Academy. Contact Jake

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Guest

    November 3, 2017 at 8:03 am

    So I guess no Laguna Seca 8h next year then.

    • FlyingLobster27

      November 3, 2017 at 8:58 am

      There should be, but I suspect SRO will want a larger GT3 field there soon, not to mention more consistent manufacturer entries across the IGTC than just Audi.
      Sepang, however, has had several runnings, all rather low-key IMO, and the knowledge that this was due to be the last one, before Suzuka takes over with a summertime 10-hour race next year, precipitated its fall.

    • Rus'L

      November 3, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      I think they will give Laguna Seca some time to develop. Sepang had plenty of time and they were going to kill it after this year anyway, replacing it with Suzuka.

  2. N8

    November 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Like a lot of things in the SRO portfolio, quite simply, no one cares. As usual, Ratel sees blue ribband events like Spa 24H and Bathurst 12H and just looks for a way to get a piece of the action by building a meaningless championship on their backs, same as “GT World Cup” @ Macau. Clearly, it isn’t the races that Steph’s holding on his own that make these “championships” viable.

  3. Morningview66

    November 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    The Macau World Cup race is an FIA initiative I believe rather than SRO.
    Though I do see where your coming from on this.

  4. Jerry

    November 3, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    No real factory interest in this competition

  5. Matt

    November 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    There’re too many GT3 series out there. And who the hell would want to run 12 hours around a boring track in Malaysia?

    • Mike S.

      November 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Well Ratel figured that out Sepang is done. They aren’t running anymore. Hoping on Nissan involvement in Japan maybe?? That isn’t a major manufacturer anyway. Nissan doesn’t know what it’s doing outside of Super GT.

    • NaBUru38

      November 7, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Sepang is far from boring.

  6. jaysfan

    November 4, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    They ran California 8 hour event with only 19 cars, how’s that any different from Sepang?

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