A new era of GT racing in China is set to kick off this weekend, with the inaugural round of the new China GT Championship, which takes place at Beijing’s Goldenport Circuit.
No fewer than 20 cars, a mix of GT3 and Cup class machinery, are slated for the opening weekend, in what series officials are targeting long-term growth from local teams and drivers in the region.
ENTRY LIST: Goldenport
The championship is a joint effort between China GT Motorsports Development Co., a subsidy of Goldenport Enterprise, and High Speed Events, which acquired the commercial rights of China GT from the Chinese Motorsport Federation in January.
Xia Qing, promoter of the popular Chinese Touring Car Championship, previously ran a national GT series under the same name for a number of years but relinquished those rights last year.
According to Charlie Davison, the International Business Development manager of China GT, the timing was right to launch an all-GT championship of its own.
“With the growth of GT racing worldwide, it makes sense to run this series in China now, given the development of motorsport in China,” Davison told Sportscar365. “Obviously with Pro-Am, it promotes cost-effective and competitive racing.”
The 2016 season features a four-event, eight-race calendar, with races at Goldenport, Shanghai, Chengdu and Zhuhai, with the season finale supporting the Asian Le Mans Series round on Oct. 28-30.
Each race will be between 45 and 60 minutes in length, with a minimum of 1 hour of practice and two 30-minute qualifying sessions, which will set the grids for each race.
The series is open to international drivers and teams, but for the moment features nearly an all-Chinese grid, largely with previous-generation GT3 and Cup machinery. However, there is a new Porsche 911 GT3 R entered, as well as four Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo cars for the opening round.
While being Pro-Am enforced, there are a number of professional Chinese drivers in the field with previous international experience in series such as Blancpain GT, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia.
Davison, who was previously with S2M Group, the former promoters of the Asian LMS, said he’s hopeful of striking alliances with other established championships and organizations in the future.
“We want to grow at the right pace in China but also we’re open to collaboration with the likes of Stephane [Ratel] in Asia at the appropriate time,” he said, “for the purpose of Chinese drivers to be exposed to more professional-level racing.
“We want to professionalize as a series. The best way to do that is to do that is to work with a bigger brother.”