March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day, and there’s few better occasions to celebrate the women who have contributed to the Autobacs Super GT Series in a meaningful and impactful way, and those who seem set to follow in their footsteps, competitors and non-competitors alike.
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.
With the combination of a new car, a new team, a new project leader, yet mostly the same driver lineup from last season, Honda supporters are hoping that 2017 will be the year that they get back on par with Nissan and Lexus in the Autobacs Super GT Series.
2016 represented rock bottom for Honda’s Super GT project, going without a race win for the first time since 1997, occupying the bottom of the GT500 points table, and suffering the withdrawal of one of their newest flagship teams after just two seasons. But there’s a cautious optimism that Honda can turn it around, and return to their winning ways in 2017.
To you, the reader of Super GT World, wherever you may be:
I cannot properly put into words how grateful I am for your support over the first six months of the site.
When I started Super GT World in July 2016, I had a clear vision in mind: To deliver high-grade, quality, insightful, and detailed analysis and coverage of the Autobacs Super GT Series, which had rarely if ever been done to this level outside of Japan.
There was no outlet for it on any of the major sports car racing sources, and opportunities to provide it elsewhere had fallen through – so after months of internal debate, I took a chance and decided to go at it myself, on a new platform, with nothing more than too much free time and a free WordPress blog at my disposal.
My main focus was on Super GT, though by happy accident, we also touched on other series – Super Formula, Japanese F3, Super Taikyu, Porsche Carrera Cup Japan – due to their deep ties with Super GT.
It was a lot of fun, even if I did not meet my own exceedingly high standards for just the first partial season on Super GT World, where I felt like I was losing sight of my stated goals for the site and its presence on social media. By my own admission, I didn’t make quite the progress that I’d hoped for by the end of the calendar year, and the quality of content published did not always meet my standards, looking back on it.
Still, I am pleased with the first six months of Super GT World, and how they went along.
So to everyone who has had a part in the success of these first six months, I say in all sincerity: Thank you. Every fellow journalist, every driver and team, every commentator, every fan of the series – just sharing, following, interacting in any way does a world of good.
I don’t like to make very long-term goals for things lately, knowing that so much can change in an instant.
But I do want to lay out clear goals for 2017: More original content, more detailed and accurate commentary and reporting, a new database for the series to profile teams and drivers, more interviews, more of everything, but also, better everything.
Let’s work to continue the GT Revolution in 2017.
Founder and editor of Super GT World