SRO Motorsports Group announced Friday the launch of the Blancpain GT Series Asian Cup, confirming the expansion of its highly popular European championship to the Asian continent for 2017.
A six-round standalone calendar is planned for next year, incorporating all-new sprint race events and featuring GT3 and GT4 cars. It will be run identical to the British GT Championship, with two one-hour races on each weekend.
It comes as a significant entry into the Asian market for SRO, which currently organizes and co-promotes the Sepang 12 Hours and FIA GT World Cup in Macau.
“We have 11-12 manufacturers that are trusting us. The expansion of GT3 will continue with the expansion of the GT3 market,” Stephane Ratel told Sportscar365.
“In Asia, it’s still a very young market. We looked at different options and we think the most effective is to just do our own thing.”
The launch of the Asian Cup is expected to be in direct competition with the established GT Asia series, which has recently struggled for entries.
“We will see if they’re competition or if we find an agreement in the future,” Ratel said. “But for the moment we have a plan and we want to push forward with our plan.
“At the moment we have a basic plan and we see who will want to come with us.”
The new championship is being headed up by SRO’s Benjamin Franassovici, who has been in charge of the Sepang 12 Hours since last year and previously ran British GT.
“We’re not completely new in Asia,” Ratel added. “When we took over the 12 Hours of Sepang, many people were saying it would collapse and we’d have no-one but we had a very good event.
“It looks like we’ll have an even better one this year. Macau, we took it over and had a good event.
“We already have one year experience in Asia with two successful events and we believe we can push our advantage to do more.”
Ratel would not be drawn to exact car count projections but said he’s confident of a steady growth.
“I think the name of Blancpain means something in Asia,” he said. “The reputation we’ve done and the BoP we offer. It will come with big support.
“We’re really going to invest in this series; we’re not going to do something small; we’re going to shake the tree because it needs to be done in Asia.
“And from the initial reaction from manufacturers, it’s been very positive.”
2017 Blancpain GT Series Asian Cup Schedule:
April – Sepang (Malaysia)
May – Chang International Circuit (Thailand)
June – Suzuka (Japan)
June – Fuji (Japan)
October – Shanghai (China)
December – Sepang (Malaysia)