The GT Association, sanctioning body and promoter of the Autobacs Super GT Series, released the second installment of major changes to the 2017 Super GT Sporting Regulations today. The first part, documenting the changes to the weekend format and GT500 Success Ballast, can be read in this entry.
Part two of the changes to the 2017 Sporting Regulations outline an overhauled seeding system to determine which teams will be eligible to run in each round of the championship, as well as GT500 chassis and engine regulation changes, and a change to the Driving Moral Hazard System, Super GT’s driver conduct policy.
The big change in this part is in the “seed rights” system, which determines which teams will get priority on the entry list from round to round on the calendar – crucially, at smaller venues such as Sportsland Sugo, or the international round at Buriram United International Circuit.
The seeding will be split into three separate groups, populated by teams fitting the criteria for one of six categories, listed in order of priority:
Category 1: “A-Seed” teams – includes all 15 Class I (GT500) teams, and all 18 Class II (GT300) teams which finished 1st through 18th in the 2016 GT300 Teams’ Championship.
Categories 2, 3, and 4 make up the “B-Seed” teams, which will be second in priority:
Category 2: International teams – all teams in Class II (GT300) registered outside of Japan, such as Toyota Team Thailand. There will be a maximum of two International teams entered.
Category 3: Tenured teams not included in A-Seed grouping – includes any remaining teams in Class II (GT300) which have competed concurrently since the 2008 Super GT Season, such as Cars Tokai Dream28, Team Mach, and Tomei Sports.
Category 4: Highest-ranked teams not in Categories 1, 2, or 3 – includes any remaining teams in Class II (GT300), based on their 2016 GT300 Teams’ Championship results, that will be seeded until a minimum of 42 cars are given entry.
Finally, C-Seeded teams comprise of those meeting the criteria for categories 5 and 6, and are on the lowest priority for entry from round-to-round:
Category 5: Existing teams not in Categories 1, 2, 3, or 4 – includes any and all remaining teams in Class II (GT300) which have participated for at least one season, including teams which have currently suspended operations. This would include the #60 LM Corsa Lexus RC F GT3, which is supported directly by Toyota Gazoo Racing, but under the new seed rights system, is not guaranteed entry into all eight rounds of the championship.
Category 6: New teams in Class II (GT300) – includes any and all first-year teams not in any of the five previous categories, such as Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave and EIcars Bentley TTO. New teams are permitted to take over the higher-priority seed rights of an existing team that has ceased participation, with permission from the GT Association (similar to the exchange of Race Charters in the NASCAR Cup Series).
As part of the changes to the entry process, no teams may enter more than one car unless they have demonstrated to the GTA that they are capable of doing so effectively. With the exception of the races in Buriram, Sugo, or any other event with limited garage capacity, all teams must participate in every round of the 2017 season, unless they have suffered a terminal issue which would prevent them from starting a race.
Teams will be re-seeded for the 2018 Super GT season, based on the best six out of eight results from the 2017 season.
In the event that there are more cars entered for a race meeting than can participate in the race itself, up to three teams will be designated as alternate entries, should any existing team be forced to withdraw from the race.
For 2017, the terms of vehicle chassis and engine usage have been amended. Each team will be required to use the same monocoque for two seasons. Any team that is forced to construct and use a new monocoque before the two-year period ends will serve a stop/go penalty in the next race, unless the previous monocoque has been terminally damaged in an accident.
Teams will be permitted to use two engines per season. The use of a third engine or more during the season will result in a stop/go penalty in the next race.
As it pertains to the Driving Moral Hazard System, it has been amended to discourage repeat offenses of unsportsmanlike driving.
Any driver who reaches 8 infraction points on their license will be barred from participating in the sole remaining practice session for the next race, and in addition, their car will be penalized 8 grid positions for the next race as well.
The maximum penalty is a one-race suspension for reaching 12 points, last given out in 2012.