It didn’t seem all that long ago that the Autobacs Super GT Series was the only major sports car racing championship carrying on with pre-season testing programmes while the rest of the racing world was shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Even active drivers were openly questioning if it was right for them to carry on testing, even behind closed doors with no spectators in attendance. But once the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games were postponed to 2021, it became apparent that racing in Japan could not continue for the foreseeable future.
A pre-season test at Fuji Speedway that was slated for 28 & 29 March was called off at the very last minute, and the first five rounds of the championship as it was originally planned have been postponed. With that in mind, the GT Association (GTA), promoter of the Autobacs Super GT Series, have announced a proposed 2020 calendar revision.
The new proposed calendar, announced on Monday, sees the 2020 Super GT season beginning at its usual season-opening venue at Okayama International Circuit, on 11-12 July. Fuji Speedway’s round will be moved to 8-9 August – as a prior postponement of the Fuji 500km ensured that, for the first time since 2004, there will be no Super GT/JGTC racing during the Golden Week holiday.
The series then moves to Sportsland Sugo on 12-13 September, Autopolis International Racing Course on 24-25 October, and Twin Ring Motegi on 7-8 November – all on their originally scheduled dates. No distances or formats have been announced for any of the scheduled events.
As for the pre-season test at Fuji Speedway that was cancelled on the day that the teams arrived, it has been provisionally rescheduled to 27-28 June.
That leaves just three more rounds that were already postponed – at Suzuka Circuit, Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, and Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. A new date for the round at Suzuka, originally scheduled for 30-31 May, has not yet been announced.
Meanwhile, the GTA is planning to reschedule the flyaway races at Buriram and Sepang to dates in either December 2020 or January 2021 – which would be the first time that an official Super GT/JGTC race meeting has been held that late into the year since the 2004 all-star exhibition race that was held in Fontana, California at the circuit now known as Auto Club Speedway.
“The rescheduling of the rounds at Suzuka and in Thailand and Malaysia are now under consideration, but plans still call for the holding of all eight rounds of this season,” said the GTA in an official statement on Monday. “Considerations of further changes to the schedule proposed below will continue to be made with an eye on the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic and societal factors, and we will keep you informed as any changes occur.”
“We wish to extend our apologies to all the fans who were looking forward to these races and ask for your kind understanding in lieu of these unfortunate circumstances.”
2020 Autobacs Super GT Series Updated Provisional Calendar
11-12 July: Okayama International Circuit
8-9 August: Fuji Speedway
12-13 September: Sportsland Sugo
24-25 October: Autopolis International Racing Course
7-8 November: Twin Ring Motegi
TBD: Suzuka Circuit
TBD: Chang International Circuit (Thailand)
TBD: Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia)