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SRO Targeting Launch of Asia-Pacific Endurance Championship

Stephane Ratel targeting launch of Asia-Pacific endurance championship…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

With the Sepang 12 Hours now under its umbrella and its increased link to the Bathurst 12 Hour, SRO Motorsports Group is targeting the launch of an Asian-Pacific endurance championship.

Speaking to Sportscar365, SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel revealed his ambitions to link the key GT/touring car races in the region together, although admitted a formalized plan has not yet been reached.

“Step by step,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “We’re very close to Bathurst. We now have Sepang. We need to make [Sepang] a success and I feel we will make it a success.

“Of course, Macau is great for our involvement in Asia. We need a little bit more. If we get this little bit more, it will work.”

Sepang marks SRO’s first step into Asia, having taken over the organization of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, which has been renamed and moved to Dec. 11-13.

The event will follow the same regulations used in the 24 Hours of Spa, while being open to a variety of GT3 and local touring cars and is expected to attract a sizable grid with Asian and some European-based teams.

A similar makeup of machinery is comprised in the Bathurst 12 Hour, an event currently organized by Yeehah Events but has seen recent collaboration from SRO, including Claude Surmont having been appointed as the event’s technical director.

Ratel admitted that a third event in the region would be needed in order to make the proposed championship a reality. “If you do a series, you need three races,” he said.

While it’s believed no timeline has been set for a possible launch in the Asia-Pacific region, Ratel said his dream of resurrecting a World Championship for GT cars is unlikely.

The FIA GT1 World Championship, launched by SRO in 2010, struggled to gain sufficient interest from teams, with the sprint-race championship morphing into the European-based Blancpain Sprint Series in 2013.

“There is so much racing, that bringing another series into the [mix] would not really make sense,” Ratel said.

“The FIA has an exclusive contract with the ACO for endurance for the WEC. So you can’t really have another FIA endurance series, so we’re left with sprint racing, and I could not have tried harder than I tried [with GT1].

“The value of the FIA title on a full championship series, with the costs attached to it, you get more success just giving the money to the teams as prize money than putting it into a prestigious title.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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