The Suzuka 10 Hours has been confirmed as a replacement for the Sepang 12 Hours in next year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge, which will remain at a four-round calendar.
The event, previously announced as a standalone race, will run on Aug. 25-26, earlier than the traditional December date of the Malaysian event, which moves to SRO’s new Asia Pacific 36 Endurance Cup.
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will again open the IGTC season in February, followed by the Total 24 Hours of Spa and now concluding with the California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which has been move back one week from this year’s date to avoid a clash with the Petit Le Mans.
SRO Motorsports Group CEO Stephane Ratel believes the new Suzuka race, which replaces Super GT’s traditional 1000 km race at the circuit, will deliver significant manufacturer involvement.
“The fact that it’s going to score points for Intercontinental is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a big event with a large attendance. I think all of the manufacturers will be there.”
Ratel said it is a “major step up” from the current IGTC calendar, which had featured the poorly-attended Sepang race.
“It’s an important market,” Ratel said of Japan. “We have Lexus and Honda plus Nissan, and all the other ones. It’s a partnership between Suzuka Circuit, Super GT and SRO. We all work together.
“GTA will bring the Japanese competitors. Benjamin [Franassovici, Blancpain GT Series Asia general manager] will bring the Asia GT competitors, and I want to believe that most of them will run the ten-hours.
“Then Sophie [Peyrat, IGTC series manager] will concentrate on trying to bring some Americans, some Europeans.
“Thanks to the Intercontinental GT, the manufacturers will reinforce and maybe bring a couple of cars. We’re very happy.”
2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge Schedule:
Feb. 2-4 – Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (Australia)
July 26-29 – Total 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium)
Aug. 25-26 – Suzuka 10 Hours (Japan)
Oct. 20-21 – California 8 Hours (United States)