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Sepang SUPER GT test revival could pave way for 2025 race

A return to overseas SUPER GT testing at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit next year could pave the way for a race to be held there in 2025, series boss Masaaki Bandoh has suggested.

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SUPER GT released its 2024 calendar in the run-up to last weekend’s Fuji race, featuring eight races but no events outside of Japan for the fifth season in a row.

The series last ventured abroad in 2019 at the Buriram circuit in Thailand, and trips to both that venue and Sepang were planned for 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the regular visit to Sepang that was a fixture of the off-season testing calendar for GT500 teams for many years prior to the pandemic is set to return next January. 

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Four days of running are understood to be planned towards the end of the month, which will mark the first overseas running for GT500 machines since January 2020.

“There have been many calls for us to race overseas,” Bandoh said. “The loudest voices are coming from Malaysia, followed by China [Shanghai], but we haven’t got as far as negotiating with China.

“There will be a test in Malaysia next January. We are thinking of going there with the GT500 cars during the cold winter season [in Japan]. We’ll take one car from each manufacturer, and we are looking at how to organise a testing opportunity for the cars that don’t go. 

“If it goes well, I personally don’t see why we couldn’t hold a race there in February [the following year].”

 

However, Bandoh added that hurdles remained regarding logistics, with the cost of shipping hugely inflated compared to 2019, and the hosting fee.

“At the moment, we are searching for solutions to those problems,” he said. “It’s more than twice as expensive as it used to be [to ship containers].”

Bandoh has previously said that a ‘winter series’ could be the most effective way to bring back overseas SUPER GT races, suggesting that a prospective return to Sepang in 2025 could be held as an exhibition event before the season proper starts in April.

The 2024 SUPER GT calendar comprises two races each in Suzuka and Fuji as well as single visits to Okayama, Sugo, Autopolis and Motegi, as per this season.

Official pre-season testing is likely to take place on consecutive weekends in March to avoid a clash with Formula E’s inaugural trip to Tokyo at the end of the month.

Motorsport.tv is showing all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

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