SRO Motorsports Group has called off plans to launch the Asia-Pacific 36 Cup this year, with the Sepang 12 Hours also on hold for the time being, according to Stephane Ratel.
The three-round championship, encompassing 12-hour races at Sepang, Bathurst and a new event at Hampton Downs, had been earmarked for a late 2018 launch with the round at the New Zealand circuit jointly prompted by SRO and Tony Quinn.
“For the moment it’s called off because, unfortunately, Sepang fell on its nose,” Ratel told Sportscar365.
“The situation with Australia has been a bit complicated. For that moment, it’s on hold.
“I’m keeping it in the back of my mind, but we have a lot on our plate right now.”
It comes on the heels of the cancelation of last year’s Motul Sepang 12 Hours, which was scheduled to close out the Intercontinental GT Challenge season.
SRO hosted the race in 2016-17 as part of a joint promotion with Sepang International Circuit, although it struggled to attract entries, and even more so, spectators to the former home of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
With the Asian leg of the IGTC moving to Suzuka, Ratel said there are currently no plans to return to Sepang.
“We did have two good years,” Ratel said. “We did pull out, and I have to say Benjamin [Franassovici, SRO series manager] worked very hard and the manufacturers trusted us and came.
“But the problem is that we were bringing the teams and… there were no spectators. Then the opportunity arose to go to Suzuka, which has a crowd.
“The principle of the Intercontinental is that we never do two races on the same continent.”
IGTC to Expand to Five Rounds?
Ratel said expansion plans for the IGTC continue, with the possibility of a fifth race in the years to come, in South Africa, while not completely ruling out a potential sixth round, which would be held in South America.
The IGTC is currently a four-round championship, featuring the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa, California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca and the new-for-2018 Suzuka 10 Hours.
“We will stay with four, someday I hope five races,” Ratel said in reference to the possible revival of the Kyalami 9 Hours.
Ratel said his “last dream” would be for SRO to return to San Luis, Argentina, to the scenic Potrero de los Funes circuit, which hosted the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2010-11, as well as a round of the FIA GT Championship in 2008.
“If you consider South America a continent in itself,” he said with a smile, although stressed there are no current discussions with the Argentinean government for an immediate return.