No Australian plans for new Blancpain Asian Cup
Stephane Ratel says he has no plans to include Australia in his new Blancpain GT Asian Cup, which will kick-off in 2017.
Announced today at Spa, the Stephane Ratel Organisation will attempt to replicate its success in Europe with a new Asian series.
It will run in competition to the existing GT Asia series, which has struggled for numbers this season.
Ratel revealed a six-round calendar for 2017 comprising of single visits to Chang (Thailand), Suzuka (Japan), Fuji (Japan) and Shanghai (China), bookended by trips to Sepang (Malaysia).
The series will feature both GT3 and GT4 machinery, with the latter class purely for amateur drivers.
Ratel, whose company took over the Sepang 12 Hour last year, is convinced that his organisation can create a viable GT series in Asia.
“What we will bring is what made the success of the Blancpain GT Series in Europe,” said Ratel, noting also that Asia is the biggest market for watch brand Blancpain.
“A selection of the most appealing circuits, a professional TV production and media service, the global BOP (Balance of Performance) of SRO and a dedicated timing service that surprisingly doesn’t really exist in the series over there.
“We will distribute a very substantial amount of prize money and, what we understand is important for the Asian competitor, which is a high level hospitality service.”
While the Carrera Cup Asia has expanded to include an Australian round at Sydney Motorsport Park this season, Ratel was quick to dismiss any suggestion of bringing his new series down under.
The SRO has an arms-length relationship with Tony Quinn’s existing Australian GT Championship, which uses the Blancpain Series’ Balance of Performance measures.
“The idea is to stay (in Central Asia) and not to pay a high price on transport costs and all this,” he said.
“What we’ve proposed is reasonably concentrated and there is no dream of a new circuit which is going to be built.
“(There is already) Australian GT and we have this great partnership with V8 (Supercars) on Bathurst.
“I have no ideas of getting involved in Australian GT.”
Ratel’s presentation to teams, manufacturers and media today at Spa also included confirmation that the Intercontinental GT Challenge will expand to include Laguna Seca next year.
An 8 Hour race at the Californian venue in October joins the Bathurst 12 Hour, 24 Hours of Spa and Sepang 12 Hours which have comprised this year’s inaugural season.
A race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, had initially been planned for 2016 but was cancelled due to a lack of entries.
A desire to add a race at Kyalami in South Africa for 2018 was also stated amid current redevelopment work at the Porsche owned venue.
“There are five continents and we want to grow step by step,” he said.
“We need to have a race in Africa and the best idea would be to revive the Kyalami 9 Hours.
“It would be great to do but at this stage it is only a dream.”