A number of leading GT Asia teams have vowed to continue in the championship next year, amid SRO Motorsport Group’s plans to launch a new Asian GT3/GT4 sprint series.
The series, run by Motorsport Asia Ltd., is expected to again see participation from Absolute Team Bentley, FFF Racing Team by ACM (Lamborghini), Phoenix Racing Asia (Audi) and Craft Bamboo Racing (Porsche), among others.
All of the above teams revealed their intentions in a press release issued by GT Asia on Monday.
“So far the 2016 season has seen some outstanding racing – the best we’ve ever seen in the GT Asia Series,” said Absolute Racing team principal Ingo Matter.
“It’s great that planning has begun for the 2017 season, and all I’ve heard is that next year will be a very positive step forward for the category.
“From our perspective we’re not only going to continue with the program we already have, but we’re also looking at increasing our involvement.”
Craft-Bamboo CEO Richard Coleman added: “GT Asia is part of the lifeblood of Craft-Bamboo Racing; it is the premier Pan-Asian series and a platform that is very important to us for our partners.”
Motorsport Asia Ltd, which became sole owners of GT Asia this year, recently announced plans to introduce a new class focused on amateur drivers, along with a restructuring of the driver classification system.
The 2017 schedule is expected to be released in the coming weeks, according to series boss David Sonenscher.
“It’s great that we’re already getting commitments from teams for 2017, that gives us a good indication that we’re heading in the right direction,” Sonenscher said.
“Like any competitive endeavor though there’s always challenges, and we’ve certainly not been immune from that, but what we’ve established in Asia takes an immense amount of planning and experience in the market.”
The latest series of events follows Stephane Ratel’s launch of the Blancpain GT Series Asian Cup, which was announced last month at Spa-Francorchamps.
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.
Exact dates for the Asian Cup rounds have yet to be announced, although it will features races at Sepang, Shanghai, Suzuka, Fuji and Buriram.
“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,” Ratel told Sportscar365.
Ratel said last month that his new series, run by former British GT promoter Benjamin Franassovici, is currently an entirely in-house operation.
“We will see if [GT Asia] is competition or if we find an agreement in the future,” he 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.”