When I awoke to the news that the 2017 running of the International Suzuka 1000km would be the last, as the Stéphane Ratel Organisation (SRO) and GT Association (GTA) announced at Suzuka Circuit a new ten-hour endurance sports car race held in the same traditional late August date from 2018 onward, I have to admit, I was shocked, blindsided even.
In fairness, I was also awake at the incredibly stupid hour of 3:00 AM, running on a busted sleep schedule. And also, I was thousands of miles away from the awesome sights and sounds of the Suzuka Circuit Motorsports Fan Appreciation Day that was taking place when the announcement was made that might have softened the blow. But that’s not really that important.
What is important is that the announcement of the Suzuka 10 Hour Endurance Race (working title), or the Suzuka 10 Hours for short (a nod to the classic Suzuka 8 Hours motorcycle race and arcade game that spawned from it) – it’s a landmark day for endurance sports car racing, a landmark day for Japanese motorsport. It’s a very, very big deal. A longer distance, a new premier category, open invitations to international teams, and a nine-figure total purse of winnings at stake.
The shock, and to many Super GT fans, the sadness and/or the frustration, comes in that Super GT, home to the fastest GT racing cars in the world, the highest-attended national racing category in Japan, has just lost its biggest race on the calendar starting next year. But before getting into that, now that the shock of the announcement has worn off, we need to realize that the sky has not completely fallen and crashed. This is the end of the Suzuka 1000km, but it really isn’t.
Continue reading How to cope with losing your biggest race: What’s next for Super GT?