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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Reinke: Suzuka Return Needed to Keep “Top League” Status

Audi Sport customer racing boss hopeful of Suzuka 10 Hour revival for 2023…

Photo: Audi

Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke is hoping for a return to Suzuka in the future for all of the races to maintain “top league” status in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.

Having debuted as part of the global GT3 series in 2018, the Suzuka 10 Hours has been absent from the IGTC calendar for the last two years due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions in Japan.

SRO Motorsports Group unveiled a four-round 2022 calendar for the series, omitting the famed Japanese venue again, although not featuring a replacement round for the Asian continent. 

Reinke said it’s important for top-level GT3 competition to return to Asia in the future but it must be done with an iconic event such as Suzuka.

“When you say Asia in general, China as well as Japan are very important markets for Audi,” Reinke told Sportscar365. 

“Before with the Sepang race we were not really in favor because we thought it was ignored in Malaysia in a way.

“With the label of the Suzuka race it was a great to fall into the ribbon of exciting names in Intercontinental GT Challenge. 

“The region is important. The Japanese market is super important. The race we were able to participate and win in was super mega important. We would love to have it back.”

Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing boss Stefan Wendl agrees with Reinke in saying that Suzuka was one of the “key elements” of the globe-trotting GT3 series.

“I think we’ve built something up with Indianapolis and we’ve built something up with South Africa. On the other hand the Asian market is not visible and not racing for two years,” Wendl told Sportscar365.

“It would be really important for us as a brand but also for our Asian clients to restart it and have this iconic event [back].

“We would like to help and push it back into the calendar.”

Wendl said there have been only two top-level events with GT3 cars and joked on the prospects of an endurance race on the streets of Macau.

“A ten-hour race in Macau would be something unique! I don’t know how many safety cars or full-course yellows we would see there. It would be an interesting attempt (laughs).

“But we are really eager to get back to both.”

Reinke added: “To be honest if you look at what we have [for IGTC]… We have Bathurst back, we have Spa, we have another great name in Indianapolis and we’ll try to develop something great, and we have Kyalami. 

“In that lineup, Suzuka is a brilliant match. And I’m absolutely with [Stephane] that he shouldn’t try to replace it just to be replaced with a second-league situation. 

“He has now made it to these top-league name and it should continue to try and fight for it.”

Ratel: Suzuka Return Not Possible Until 2023 at Earliest

Stephane Ratel said he’s still hopeful of a return to Suzuka although admitted it would be up to the local promoters, which could return the mid-summer endurance race to a round of the Super GT championship.

“We would love for Suzuka to come back to the calendar but we know it’s not going to be before 2023,” Ratel told Sportscar365.

“We are already happy if we get back to Bathurst, which was really what the Intercontinental was built on: the link between Spa and Bathurst. And then we go from there.”

A joint effort between GT Association and Mobilityland, with SRO as a co-promoter, saw the event transformed from the Suzuka 1000km to the 10 Hour in 2018. 

GTA has placed a round at Suzuka on next year’s Super GT calendar in late August — the traditional date for the race — although it’s unclear if it will be a standard 300km round or potentially reverting to the 1000km race distance.

“There have been some articles, but do they want to do the 1000km? We don’t know,” Ratel said.

“I think Suzuka Circuit would let us know if they decided to revive the 1000km with Super GT. Initially when they came to us, they wanted the 1000km to be an international event.”

If the event shifts back to a Super GT endurance round, Ratel admitted he would have no other choice but to look for an alternative IGTC event in the region.

“But I don’t have information that this would be the case,” he said.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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