The GT Association (GTA), sanctioning body of the Autobacs Super GT Series, have distributed an official statement to its teams that it will move the seventh round of the championship, the Super GT in Kyushu 300km at Autopolis circuit, back one week to October 20-21.
Last week’s announcement by the FIA World Endurance Championship to change the date of the 2018 6 Hours of Fuji to October 12-14 was a contentious decision for a number of people within the sport – with its main detractors pointing out that the change of dates has created a clash of dates with the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
But with the calendar change, it also affected things in Super GT, as the Autopolis round was to be held on the same October 14 weekend.
The drivers most affected by the change were Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi of Toyota, who are both signed to compete in the WEC in Super GT, with their WEC commitments taking priority in the event of a clash of dates between the two.
Already set to miss the Fuji 500km on May 4 due to the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps falling on the same weekend, Nakajima (last year’s winner at Autopolis) and Kobayashi would have missed a second Super GT race if the calendars remained unaltered, and with the two venues over 1,000 kilometers apart, it could have drastically impacted attendance for both events.
This raised concerns with a few drivers, chief among them Super GT’s biggest off-season free agent acquisition, Jenson Button of Honda.
But per the GTA bulletin, which was distributed to the teams on February 10, and shared today by Toyota Gazoo Racing ambassador and Lexus Team Wako’s LeMans team director Juichi Wakisaka here, it appears that Super GT will move its penultimate round at Autopolis to accommodate the change of dates.
Ironically, October 20-21 was the original date for this event, when the first draft of the 2018 Super GT calendar was published in July 2017.
The date change will need to be approved by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) and the FIA before it is made official, but it should be a quick process that will alleviate some of the concerns about the WEC’s recent calendar update.