SUPER GT evaluating timed races at Fuji and Suzuka
SUPER GT is weighing up the prospect of introducing timed races at Fuji and Suzuka next year, in place of its traditional fixed-distance events.
Japan's premier sportscar racing series revealed its 2022 calendar in the summer, with eight races planned across six different tracks and no international races, as was the case this season.
However, the series has yet to confirm next year's race formats, despite GTA chairman Masaaki Bandoh outlining a desire to extend the standard distance from 300km to 350km earlier in the year.
There is also set to be an expansion of longer endurance-style races in the series after the successful revival of the the traditional Golden Week Fuji 500km fixture in May, which was the only event this season longer than 300km.
A provisional 2022 calendar released by Japanese automobile federation JAF suggested that the August Fuji race would return to being a 500-mile event, as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his pre-event press conference last month at Fuji, Bandoh said that a shift to some timed events was on the agenda, without specifying how long these would be. The Fuji 500km typically takes three hours to complete, while the 500-mile event has run to between four-and-a-half to five hours.
"At Suzuka and Fuji, we are considering 500km or 500-mile races, and we're also thinking about making them timed races," stated Bandoh. "I want to make it so that we can have fireworks [immediately after the race finishes], so to do that it might be better to use a timed-race system."
However, a GTA spokesperson confirmed to Motorsport.com that both Fuji and Suzuka races on the 2022 schedule are candidates to be turned into timed events, despite some media outlets interpreting Bandoh's remarks as referring specifically to the late August Suzuka date.
This is the race that traditionally ran as the Suzuka 1000km until the event became the Suzuka 10 Hours round of the SRO-run Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2018.
SRO's decision to give up on holding the Suzuka 10 Hours in 2022 prompted speculation that the Suzuka 1000km could be revived, although Bandoh's latest remarks make this seem unlikely.
Bandoh also clarified that the Motegi race would remain at 300km due to concerns about brake wear, while also suggesting that other races held on "short courses" - possibly a reference to Okayama and Sugo - would likewise stay at the regular distance next year.
The GTA spokesperson stressed that no final decision has been made yet about which, if any, races will run to 350km next season.
Additional reporting by Kenichiro Ebii
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