GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS will stage 12 one-hour races across six events in as many months next season as part of a new look calendar that, for the first time, includes rounds at Motegi and Zhuhai.
Separate 40-minute ‘GT Sprint Asia’ races for single drivers will also bring together GT2, GT3, GT4 and GTC cars at two events for the first time.
SRO Motorsports Group has also taken a pragmatic and responsible approach to addressing the unique logistical and social challenges facing a championship staged across Asia.
Starting more than a month later than usual – and with a provision to push back still further if necessary – offers the best possible chance to avoid any lingering travel restrictions in the region. Likewise, hosting official pre-season testing and the first two events at Sepang – where most teams base their cars over the winter – reduces logistical costs and concerns.
2021 AT A GLANCE
Sepang International Circuit hosts the first of its two scheduled rounds on May 29/30. Should travel restrictions remain a factor, the venue’s second event on June 19/20 will become the season opener and feature three 60-minute races instead of two. Another will then be added to a different existing event to ensure the campaign still features a total of 12 points-paying races.
Thailand’s Chang International Circuit hosts round three on July 3/4 before the popular MotoGP and Super GT venue, Motegi, makes its series debut one month later. The August 7/8 date is also ideal for teams and manufacturers eager to remain in Japan for the subsequent Suzuka 10 Hours. Indeed, next year Asia’s only Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round will also award prize money to the best placed full-season GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS entry.
It’s then on to China for two more outings, starting at Shanghai on September 11/12 before Zhuhai International Circuit closes out the 2021 campaign in October.
Zhuhai last hosted a SRO Motorsports Group event – the FIA GT Championship – in 2007, while Stephane Ratel also helped organise China’s first international motor race in 1994 when the BPR Global Endurance Series competed on Zhuhai’s city streets. The same championship christened Zhuhai’s current permanent facility two years later.
Zhuhai’s location will also allow teams to easily contest the subsequent non-championship GT event at Macau, which traditionally takes place in mid-November.
GT SPRINT ASIA
The introduction of GT Sprint Asia adds a new element to two GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS weekends next year. Powerful new GT2 machinery will contest 40-minute races without pitstops that are reserved for solo drivers. Should it prove successful the same format could be extended to more events in 2021.
Sepang’s round in June and the Zhuhai season finale will both feature standalone multi-class sprint races comprising GT2, GT3 (current and previous generation), GTC and GT4 entries.
REGIONAL FOCUS CONTINUES
A special focus on regional development remains central to SRO Motorsports Group’s plans in 2021.
Mandating one Asian driver per entry resulted in unprecedented regional participation throughout 2019 – a trend that was set to continue this year until the season, which had attracted another 30-strong entry, was abandoned due to the global pandemic. The same rule will apply in 2021.
GT4 will also receive a boost via reduced entry fees for teams fielding two cars, with the second car subject to a 50% discount. The class’ Am-Am crews will also benefit from a shorter minimum pitstop time than those in Silver-Am – a category that was set to be introduced at the start of 2020.
What’s more, all races will remain free to watch anywhere in the world via SRO’s livestreaming service.
Prize money totalling $300,000 will also remain unchanged in 2021.
2021 PROVISIONAL CALENDAR
Sepang – May 29/30 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Sepang – June 19/20 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4 + GT Sprint Asia 2x races
Buriram – July 3/4 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Motegi – August 7/8 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Shanghai – September 11/12 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Zhuhai – October 16/17 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4 + GT Sprint Asia 2x races
Sepang – April TBC – Optional official testing
Suzuka 10H – August 21-22 – Non-championship (Intercontinental GT Challenge)
Macau – November (TBC) – Non-championship (Macau Grand Prix)
Source. SRO Motorsports Group