Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser believes the Intercontinental GT Challenge will come back stronger in 2018, despite the cancelation of this year’s scheduled season-ending Motul Sepang 12 Hours.
It was announced last week that the Dec. 9 race at the Malaysian circuit was called off due to lack of entries, with reportedly less than 15 cars having been been committed for the fourth and final round of the IGTC season.
“Sepang was always a bit on the edge and was clear,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “Stephane [Ratel] made that transparent to us.
“At the end of the day he made a logical decision. We had been informed up front, so it was not a problem.”
While coming just after a 19-car grid for last month’s inaugural California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was also initially in jeopardy of cancelation, Walliser is still a firm believer in SRO Motorsport Group’s IGTC concept.
Sepang is set to be replaced by a new 10-hour race at Suzuka next August, which is expected to deliver a sizable field of Japanese-based teams, including committed factory entries from Nissan, Honda and Lexus.
“It’s always not nice if you cannot make the race,” Walliser said. “But if it doesn’t make enough sense and you don’t have enough entries or the quality of the grid is not as good, sometimes this decision is better.
“Especially in light that there’s a development of these [four] races to have Suzuka next year. We see there’s a growth in the quality of the events.
“Even sometimes a decision to stop something, just to improve, is maybe on a strategic point of view, better than just doing it and the quality is not good and the quality is not good and you’re not happy with the results of the event.”
Factory Teams in Question
While fully committed to the IGTC formula, Walliser has questioned the varying levels of factory involvement and support in the series, namely from newly crowned two-time champions Audi, which has run nearly full works operations with locally-based teams this year.
It compares to the likes of Porsche and McLaren, which has largely based its entries on customer teams with factory support.
“We have to figure out what is the expected level,” Walliser said. “We really supported the customers and others did different [things]. That’s part of the plan for next year on how it will run and how it will look like.”
Bentley Team M-Sport confirmed Thursday a full-season works entry with its new-generation Continental GT3, with Strakka Racing set to field three Mercedes-AMG GT3s, with factory backing from the German manufacturer.