Ratel targets 2017 Bathurst for Asia Pacific GT Series
European GT boss Stephane Ratel has confirmed intentions to include the Bathurst 12 Hour in a proposed Asia-Pacific endurance series, but warns it won’t happen before 2017.
The architect of Europe’s successful Blancpain GT Series is well underway with plans to launch a new endurance series in Asia, shaped around the Bathurst and Sepang 12 Hour events.
Ratel’s SRO Group has recently acquired the organisational and promotional rights to the Sepang 12 Hour, which will switch from its traditional August date to December this year.
The Frenchman believes linking Sepang, February’s Bathurst event and at least one more endurance race could form a strong series for the region.
Ratel says he is in ongoing discussions with Bathurst 12 Hour organiser James O’Brien, with the duo meeting up as recently as this month’s Blancpain Endurance Series opener in Monza, Italy.
“We are taking it step-by-step and it would be logical for Sepang to have a link with Bathurst for sure, but first of all we need to succeed in building Sepang into a success,” Ratel told Speedcafe.com of an Asia-Pacific GT3 Series.
“The objective is to have a successful event at Sepang in 2015 and if we do a successful event we will be probably able to work on something for 2016/2017 because the Sepang race will be in December and the Bathurst race in February.
“We think it has a good chance to be a success and we are working hard at this, and if it is a success we can really think of tie-up with Bathurst 12 Hour in one way or another.
“To talk about an Asian series we would need to find at least another event or two and the problem is it is not like Europe where you can just drive to circuits. It involves a lot of freight and containers.
“It is not easy, the time we have between the end of national championships like Asian GT, Australian GT and Japan GT and the start of a new season is limited.
“This is where we are struggling a bit at the moment but I would say the intention is there.
“When you are a part of a bigger picture you will get more teams joining and more manufacturer presence (at events).”
The formation of an Asian-Pacific series would see Bathurst adopt full technical and sporting regulations used by the Blancpain Series, including the SRO’s driver seeding system and, most likely, the introduction of an all pro class.
The Bathurst 12 Hour’s driver seeding has garnered plenty of criticism in the past with teams having to submit at least one unseeded driver for each entry.
Ratel says his group will work closely with O’Brien’s Bathurst 12 Hour operation ahead of next year’s race, hinting the regulations could fall more closely in line to that of the Blancpain Series.
“We will just be working on the rules to see if we can get closer on the technical and sporting regulations it is more this kind of thing, but there is no commercial agreement yet,” added Ratel.
“I think it is too early for the Bathurst 12 Hour to go to an all pro class.
“However, Sepang will have an all-pro class and will follow our Blancpain regulations exactly.
“If the bigger picture comes (the proposed Asian GT Endurance Series) then we will have to run each event to the same rules.”