The Autobacs Super GT Series will return to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia as part of a brand-new, three-year deal beginning in 2020.
Malaysian motoring journalists Paul Tan and Jonathan Lee reported on Friday that the GT Association (GTA), promoter and sanctioning body of Super GT, reached an agreement with sports event organiser Haro Sports and Entertainment (HSE) to work together towards bringing Super GT racing back to Malaysia for the first time since the 2013 season.
And on Saturday morning, before the start of qualifying for the Motegi GT 250km Race, the deal was officially announced at a press conference with GTA Chairman Masaaki Bandoh, and HSE representative Fahrizal bin Hasan.
“We hope that not only the drivers, teams and manufacturers, but also everyone involved with Super GT will work together with Haro and the local staff involved in operations at Sepang to help the people of Malaysia share in the enjoyment of motorsports, and create a race event based on a shared understanding of automobile culture,” said GTA Chairman Bandoh. “At the same time, I hope that through Super GT, we can contribute to exchanging ideas that builds a friendship between Malaysia and Japan.”
Sepang was the venue of Super GT’s first non-Japanese event, held in 2000 when it was known as the All-Japan GT Championship (JGTC). After two-seasons as a non-championship event, Sepang became a championship round from 2002 to 2013 (excluding 2003). Sepang continues to host Super GT tests during the winter months.
After 2013, a new race at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, took Sepang’s place on the calendar from 2014. The contract between Chang International Circuit and the GTA runs through the end of 2019.
On top of the announcement that Super GT is set to return to the home of the Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix and the former home of the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix, the race is also expected to be the first-ever Super GT championship race held at night, under the new floodlight system at Sepang International Circuit that was completed this August. The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), Super GT’s partners in the new Class 1 regulations, held its first-ever night race event at Misano, Italy this past August.
“Japan is synonymous with innovation, and at Haro, we are all about reinventing the wheel,” said Bin Hasan. “The return of Super GT to Malaysia will be history in the making.” It is expected that the revival of Super GT at Sepang will replace the Fuji GT 500 Mile Race in 2020, as Fuji Speedway will be in use as a full-time cycling venue for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Images courtesy of Toyota.