While this year’s event at Circuit of The Americas was canceled, Stephane Ratel has vowed that the Intercontinental GT Challenge will feature an American round in 2017.
The SRO Motorsports Group boss, who was on-site at COTA last weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge season-opener, revealed that he’s working on different options to bring a Blancpain GT-style endurance race to the U.S.
“Clearly we will have a race in America in 2017, for sure,” Ratel told Sportscar365.
“What we know is that it can’t be starting the season because teams are busy getting ready for the European season. We’re working on it.”
The Six Hours of The Americas, which was scheduled to be run on the COTA PWC weekend, was canceled due to lack of entries, with plans for the proposed 2017 U.S. round to be run later in the calendar year.
Ratel admitted it could be at a track other than COTA, and may even be a a standalone event, in order to attract a large enough grid of local entries.
“COTA is a nice place but there are a couple of other very nice circuits in America where it could be the right place,” he said.
“I think we’ve seen from this year that having a race and expecting the same teams to do both [on a shared weekend] is difficult and risky.
“Many were interested and talked to us but then they came back to us and said, ‘We looked at it and it’s complicated to run both.’
“I think it would probably be better to do it separately.”
Despite the reduction to an initial three-round championship for this year, Ratel has been pleased with the launch of GT Challenge, which kicked off last month as part of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The Total 24 Hours of Spa and 12 Hours of Sepang will complete this year’s inaugural three-round season.
“It’s been great to start with four manufacturers,” Ratel said. “I didn’t think I would have that from the start.
“To have Audi, Mercedes, McLaren and Bentley right out of the box in year one is cool. That can only grow.”
Ratel is hopeful of ultimately expanding the GT3-based championship to five rounds.
“I’m [also] trying to have a race in Africa in 2018,” he said. “That’s really the concept: Five races on five continents. No more. That’s what would make it really unique.”