Australian GT will move away from Supercars promoted events next season following the release of its 2017 calendar.
Australian GT will share the bill with Supercars at just two events in 2017 – the independently promoted Clipsal 500 and Australian F1 Grand Prix – after direct negotiations with the category broke down.
Organisers had asked to feature on the Supercars bill at Phillip Island, Sydney Motorsport Park and Sandown but were unable to secure the requested 60 minute race time slots.
The five round sprint series will visit Queensland Raceway from August 4-6 before heading to Symmons Plains, Tasmania for a standalone event from September 1-3.
Symmons Plains will provide a new highlight for the Australian GT Championship before its annual finale at Highlands Park in New Zealand from November 10-12.
The Tasmania event will be promoted by Targa Tasmania Event director Mark Perry, while championship organisers are working on a deal with the Tasmainian government regarding freight costs.
As previously reported, organisers had already elected to host the entire Australian Endurance Championship away from Supercars in 2017.
The AEC will begin at Phillip Island (May 26-28) before joining the Shannons Nationals at Sydney Motorsport Park (July 7-9), ahead of the New Zealand Hampton Downs (October 27-29) and Highlands Park (November 10-12) double header.
The 101 (lap) format will receive a tweak, with new ‘Australian 1001’ and ‘New Zealand 1001’ brands introduced.
The former comprises 500km at Phillip Island and 501km at SMP, followed by 500km at Hampton Downs and 501km at Highlands Park.
The new calendar was unveiled to teams during the category’s post-season awards night at Highlands Park, where manager Ken Collier declared that Australian GT is “no longer a support category”.
Championship owner Tony Quinn believes the category has grown enough to stand by itself but refused to rule out a return to Supercars events in the future.
“Not going with Supercars is not a big thing to us,” Quinn told Speedcafe.com.
“We are surviving regardless of Supercars.
“They are just an event company that put on events and if they don’t have room or accommodate our championship structure then we can’t go with them. It is a simple as that.
“The endurance race we did with Supercars this year (at SMP) was a waste of time.
“I have the support of 90 percent of (the AGT) pit lane. They all seem to be happy so I don’t think we are doing much wrong.”
Quinn also spoke enthusiastically about the category’s own new event at Symmons Plains.
“I thought that if anything happened with the Supercars calendar we needed an alternative,” he said.
“Back in the days with Nations Cup, Symmons Plains was one of the best events we did.
“The people of Tasmania came out in the droves and I think the round is going to be pretty special.
“It will be a financially good event for us to do and that cost will be passed onto the guys as we might have prize money.
“It won’t cost the guys to go there any more than Phillip Island.”
The Australian GT Trophy Series will continue to be contested over five rounds on the Shannons Nationals bill.
2017 Australian GT combined calendar
|March 2-5||CAMS Australian GT Championship||Adelaide Parklands|
|March 23-26||CAMS Australian GT Championship||Albert Park|
|April 7-9||CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series||Sandown|
|May 26-28||CAMS Australian Endurance Championship||Phillip Island|
|June 9-11||CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series||Winton|
|July 7-9||CAMS Australian Endurance Championship||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|August 4-6||CAMS Australian GT Championship||Queensland Raceway|
|August 19-20||CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series||Winton|
|September 1-3||CAMS Australian GT Championship||Symmons Plains|
|September 8-10||CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series||Phillip Island|
|October 27-29||CAMS Australian Endurance Championship||Hampton Downs|
|November 4-5||CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series||Wakefield Park|
|November 10-11||CAMS Australian GT Championship||Highlands Motorsport Park|
|November 10-12||CAMS Australian Endurance Championship||Highlands Motorsport Park|