Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, McLaren and Audi will battle wheel-to-wheel in the penultimate round of the 2014 GT Asia Series.
Asia’s most successful sportscar championship will return to Shanghai for the penultimate round of the 2014 GT Asia Series during the second weekend of October, bringing some of the automotive industry’s most iconic marques to one of the biggest population centres in the world.
An impressive field of cars will contest the Chinese round of the championship, which sees three teams fighting for outright honours including Malaysia’s dual-series champion Mok Weng Sun and Japanese team-mate Keita Sawa, Englishman Rob Bell and Japanese team-mate Hiroshi Hamaguchi, and local star Anthony Liu Xu who alongside Italy’s Davide Rizzo is right in the mix on their team’s debut in what has now become without any doubt, the Regions leading Sportscar Championship.
Asia is obviously bucking the trend a little bit with the global situation, but I also think our success and the attention we’re attaining internationally is as a result of our consistency.
Claiming the coveted GT Asia Series trophy won’t be the only prize on offer, something which the automotive industry is only too aware, with the manufacturers providing strong technical support to their teams in their quest for victory, providing valuable marketing opportunities across the region.
Currently it is a battle between the British built McLaren of Bell and Hamaguchi and the Ferrari 458s of Mok/Sawa and Lui Xu/Rizzo and both marques are keen to claim the prize, but don’t discount Aston Martin and Bentley who are also throwing some serious weight behind their Chinese challenge.
The big winner though is FIA GT3 competition, with the Asian region growing rapidly over recent seasons to rival some of the strongest championships in the world. Fields of more than 30 cars are a regular feature on a program that includes more than ten hours of racing across events in China, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, with expansion into new territories currently under discussion.
“We’ve been working on it steadily to improve the quality and improve the grids and this year we’ve started to see the benefit of that work with strong fields and fantastic racing,” David Sonenscher, the CEO of Motorsport Asia explained.
“That in turn provides great entertainment for the fans, a real spectacle - nothing beats a field of 30 or more cars going wheel-to-wheel into turn one!
“Our reputation too extends beyond Asia, with some of the best drivers in the world making their way into the series, often with full manufacturer support, so it’s clearly high on their list of priorities.”
Over the last 12-months the series has attracted some of the world’s best drivers, names like Mika Hakkinen, Alex Yoong, Rob Bell, Stefan Mucke, Christopher Mies, Andrea Caldarelli and Richard Lyons - drivers with F1, Sportscar and GT experience.
“Asia is obviously bucking the trend a little bit with the global situation, but I also think our success and the attention we’re attaining internationally is as a result of our consistency. A lot of the people that manage and support our events have been with us a long time and that consistency breeds confidence. We’re also delivering fantastic quality fields and value for money for our competitors.
“If you look at the manufacturers and where their biggest markets are these days, there’s no doubt that Asia sits near the top. Porsche for instance, when we started working with them in 2003 I think they were selling something like 30 cars in China, now they’re selling something like 3000 plus cars per year into that same market.
“We’ve always taken it as our role to develop the sport in this region as much as we can. We bring quality racing to the fans to attract more people into the sport, more people in the grandstands, more people watching it on television around the world and hence more sponsors because there is greater value for them too.
“We can always do more with social media and television, but we’re making new contacts all the time and pushing new technologies as far as our budgets will allow with things like live-streaming which we’re trialing in 2014 as a pilot project to introduce fully in 2015.
“Just recently we began negotiations with one of the regions biggest media groups about taking our message into millions of homes live from every round, something which we couldn’t have done in the past, but with our profile and the emerging technologies, all of this is now possible and it’s something that we think is important as one of the next big steps in the growth of the GT Asia Series.
“Overall I am terribly proud of how far we’ve come in the last seven years, and I can’t see this increase in growth slowing up any time soon, it’s an exciting time for GT Asia.”
2014 GT Asia Series - calendar
Rnd#1/#2, 16-18 May - Korea International Circuit, South Korea (AFOS)
Rnd#3/#4, 30 May-1 June - Autopolis International Circuit, Japan (SGT)
Rnd#5/#6, 11-13 July - Fuji International Speedway, Japan (Super Formula)
Rnd#7/#8, 15-17 August - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (AFOS)
Rnd#9/#10, 12-14 September - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (MSS)
Rnd#11/#12, 10-12 October - Shanghai International Circuit, China (WTCC)
Rnd#13, 14-16 November - Guia Circuit, Macau (MGP)
GT Asia Series