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SRO Targeting Return to Russia in 2016

SRO targeting return to Russia for Blancpain GT Series in 2016…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

The Blancpain GT Series has targeted a return to Russia in 2016, following last weekend’s successful replacement round held at Moscow Raceway.

The fourth round of the Sprint Series, originally scheduled to be run on the streets of Moscow, was relocated at the last minute to the permanent facility due to construction work around the initial site of Moscow State University.

According to SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel, talks are ongoing between his group and local promoter, Korsa Media, for future events in the country.

“The target was to always have the street race,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “Especially at Moscow University, as it’s a dream site and would look absolutely phenomenal.

“I’m really thanking Moscow Raceway for having it this year. It’s good to be here but it would be better, of course in the center of Moscow.

“I hope [our promoter] will manage one way or the other [in the future].”

While official attendance numbers have not yet been released, the circuit, located 60 miles northwest of the city center, attracted a respectable crowd on Saturday, estimated to be upwards of 15,000 fans.

According to Ratel, it marked a significant improvement from SRO’s previously only trip to the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit in 2012, when it hosted a round of the FIA GT1 World Championship.

“We definitely had more people than we came in 2012 when it was 7 degrees [Celsius] and it was raining so hard the wind blowing,” he said. “You had to be a penguin to stay in the grandstands for more than five minutes!

“It’s nice to see the circuit with a crowd. If I compare with pictures I’ve seen with other series that have come here, I think we’ve done well.

“I think we have a good promoter. The presentation we did in front of the Kremlin [on Thursday] helped. It showed the championship to a lot of people.”

Ratel noted the increased popularity of Russian competitors to both the Sprint and Endurance Series as an incentive for the championship to return, despite some logistical challenges.

“It’s true that in general, we have a lot of Russian drivers, especially in the Endurance series,” Ratel said. “I think they’re the fourth or fifth most represented nationality of the number of drivers.

“In my long career, I’ve been to many, many new countries for motorsport. Russia is really the one that gave back the most to the GT racing.

“You have Russian teams and quite a lot of Russian drivers so it makes sense to come here. But it’s difficult.

“The road is long, the procedures for teams, such as ATA Carnets [is difficult]. The Visas are increasingly complicated.

“It hasn’t made it easier but it’s good to be here and I hope we can keep it on the calendar.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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