Ratel eyeing NZ round for Asia Pacific series
Stephane Ratel is investigating the possibility of hosting a round of the proposed Asia Pacific GT3 endurance series in New Zealand.
The creator of Europe’s successful Blancpain GT Series plans to form a new GT series, including the Sepang 12 Hour and Bathurst 12 Hour endurance events.
Ratel has maintained that a minimum of three races would be required to make the series viable, which has now led to preliminary talks with Tony Quinn, owner of New Zealand circuits Highlands Park and Hampton Downs.
The pair have engaged in discussions regarding the availability of the circuits, which has left Quinn hopeful a deal could be struck to host an Asia Pacific GT endurance round at the recently purchased Hampton Downs.
Late 2016 would be the earliest a potential event held at Hampton Downs could take place as the circuit is undergoing a period of redevelopment.
“I embraced it (the conversation with Ratel) with open arms and particularly at Hampton Downs it (an Asia Pacific GT event) would a be a great thing,” Quinn told Speedcafe.com.
“He (Stephane) started off talking about Highlands Park because he has heard some good things but at the end of the conversation it was kind of agreed that to make a commercial success of it then Hampton Downs would be better.
“Stephane definitely knows what AGT is and we have had talks. Nothing more, but I will go out of my way to try and accommodate his series.
“If I was to put it on a percentage scale I would say 85 percent we would do something.
“His man and Ken Collier (AGTC manager) are now talking dates.”
Although keen to launch an Asia Pacific Series, Ratel’s plans hinge on the success of the Sepang 12 Hour (December 11-13), his organisation’s latest project.
Meanwhile, work continues to formulate the calendar for next year’s inaugural Australian GT Endurance Championship.
Quinn has hinted a five round series is most likely to eventuate, including rounds at the Bathurst 12 Hour, Phillip Island, Sydney Motorsport Park, Hampton Downs and Highlands Park.
“We have made some progress but we have got a few things to sort,” added Quinn.
“We hope to be completed by the Eastern Creek round (August 21-23).
“My priority is the competitors and I want to do the right thing by them firstly and then try and do the best thing for the sport.
“There is so much interest in the series we have got to be careful and mindful that we do the right thing.
“We will try to incorporate the Bathurst 12 Hour but there are many things that need to be addressed.”
Interest in the new series continues to grow resulting in Quinn receiving pitches from prospective sponsors with regards to naming rights for the championship.