Image Credit: Shigeru Kitamichi/Motorsport Forum

Notes from GTA press conference at Sugo

GT Association (GTA) president Masaaki Bandoh held his customary pre-race press conference on the morning of this weekend’s Autobacs Super GT Series race at Sportsland Sugo.

Bandoh covered an array of topics, from a potential return to Autopolis, to future changes in race procedure.

  • Wireless Radio & GPS introduced for 2017 – Bandoh says that the series will introduce a new race control system next year, using wireless radio communications and GPS to allow race officials to contact drivers directly with information about yellow flags and safety car deployments. This is the same system utilized by the FIA World Endurance Championship.
  • FCY “slow zones” also being considered – Bandoh also said that he would like to adopt the Full Course Yellow (FCY) system used in the World Endurance Championship, in order to cut down on the number of Safety Car deployments and reduce the reliance upon intervention vehicles in the event of accidents during a race.
  • Autopolis set for 2017 return – With the announcement that Autopolis circuit in Kyushu will re-open on October 1st, Super GT plans to return to the circuit for the 2017 season. The 2016 Super GT at Kyushu 300km was cancelled in the wake of the devastating Kumamoto earthquakes.
  • Other offers for Autopolis replacement revealed – Many other circuits stepped forward with bids to replace the cancelled race at Autopolis. This included a bid from Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which was scheduled as the penultimate race of the season. In the end, the GTA decided on Motegi as the venue for the replacement event, forming the first leg of the double-header.
  • Confirmation of Motegi GT finale format – Bandoh confirmed the two-race format of the final round at Twin Ring Motegi, with two separate qualifying sessions on the morning of the races, and a Friday practice session. The Saturday qualifying and race sessions will see success ballast reduced to 1 kg per championship point, while Sunday’s qualifying and race will see all cars run ballast-free.
  • Reinforcement of support for GT500/DTM monocoque – Bandoh also continued to support the unified monocoque of the GT500 class cars, shared with that of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series machines, in the wake of the revelation that Lexus Team au TOM’s were forced to build a new monocoque after their old shell began to fatigue. Bandoh says that the unified GT500/DTM monocoque is also essential to keep cost of participation down.
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