The Motul Sepang 12 Hours race on December 10-11 is the final round of the newly created SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, and many of the top teams and drivers from the Autobacs Super GT Series will take part, thanks to an agreement between the Stéphane Ratel Organisation (SRO) and the GT-Association (GTA).
Headlining the list of entries out of that partnership is four-time GT300 championship-winning team apr Racing, and their Toyota Prius GT hybrid, the JAF-GT specification machine being entered in the premier GT3 Pro category alongside many of the world’s best in this truly international lineup.
The #30 apr Toyota Prius GT will be driven by GT300’s all-time pole position record holder Kota Sasaki, his regular co-driver Hiroaki Nagai, and Koki Saga from the #31 apr Prius squad.
They won’t be the only Super GT team participating in Sepang this weekend. Perennial series stalwarts JLOC are taking a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 to Malaysia. Driving the #88 Huracán in the GT3 Pro category will be two-time GT300 champion Manabu Orido, 2016 Super Taikyu ST-X champion Kazuki Hiramine, and coming over from Lamborghini Team Direction, Singapore-born South African, Adrian Zaugg.
Both teams will have a tough task ahead of them to win in Sepang: The two-car teams of Audi Sport Phoenix Racing and Manthey Racing Porsche are the overwhelming favorites to win. With driver lineups headlined by the likes of Laurens Vanthoor and René Rast, they are extremely formidable challengers in their twin Audi R8 LMS – the same car that won last year.
One of the Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3-Rs will feature former Super GT driver Frédéric Makowiecki, while their sister car features 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans champions Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.
In GT3 Pro-Am, HubAuto Racing will bring their #35 Ferrari 488 GT3 over from the Super Taikyu Endurance Series, led by their ace driver, three-time Suzuka 1000km class winner Hiroki Yoshimoto (LM Corsa) and HubAuto owner Morris Chen. Shinya Hosokawa (JLOC) and Hiroki Yoshida (Gulf Racing with Pacific) will also drive the HubAuto Ferrari.
Fellow Super Taikyu squad Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave will also make their Sepang debut, but the Toyota dealership-run team will field a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. The #52 Mercedes features a star-studded driver lineup headed by Super GT legend Naoki Hattori, 2011 GT300 Drivers’ Champion Taku Bamba, and former Team Taisan SARD driver Shogo Mitsuyama.
Representing GT Asia, Singha Racing will field their Ferrari 488 GT3, with former Super GT driver Carlo van Dam, and Piti Bhirombhakdi, the Singha Brewery heir who drove as a wildcard in the Buriram Super GT Race this year.
Lastly, Muta Racing TWS will enter a Lexus RC350 in the GT4 category, the same team that won the 2016 Super Taikyu ST-3 Championship with Super GT driver Ryohei Sakaguchi, and co-driver Makoto Hotta – both drivers will drive for the team in Malaysia.
The Sepang 12 Hours expects to be a big race. And if rumours of the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix’s bleak future come true, it might soon be one of the biggest events that Sepang has left.