During Sunday morning’s media press conference from Fuji Speedway, GT Association (GTA) Chairman Masaaki Bandoh confirmed that the current Class One technical regulations will remain in place for the Autobacs Super GT Series’ GT500 class through the end of 2023.
“Changes to the vehicle regulations for the GT500 class will be made every four years, instead of every three years in the past. This means that the current Class One rules, introduced this season, will remain in effect until the 2023 season,” said Chairman Bandoh. “Then, next season, we will freeze development in areas such as engines and aerodynamics.”
Chairman Bandoh said in a previous press conference at Suzuka Circuit in October that the Class One regulations would stay in place through 2023, and this weekend, he again confirmed these plans. GT500 will be the only category adhering to these regulations for the near future, now that the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), the second member of the Class One steering committee, have committed to restructuring their series around GT3-based regulations in 2021.
“Then, based on the data from the first four races of next season, we can discuss with the manufacturers participating in the GT500 class about lifting the freeze on development in these areas, if they decide it would be better to do so. In addition, we are also discussing the possibility of lifting the development freeze in these areas for 2022, which would then continue to be used for the following season, in 2023,” Chairman Bandoh added, hinting at a potential second development freeze in the four-year cycle.
“Also, in principle, the GTA will control all testing that takes place during the off-season,” Chairman Bandoh said. “We would also like to limit in-season testing and make sure that car and tire manufacturers’ testing is done as much as possible together.”
When asked about the next set of regulations, Chairman Bandoh stated his desire for more sustainable energy sources to be implemented with the new regulations, which would take effect from 2024.
“The vehicle rules for the GT500 class from the 2024 season onwards will be very environmentally friendly,” Bandoh said. “The details are still to be worked out, but for example, the safety car in this year’s race is already using a 10% biofuel mixture made from recycled tempura oil. For our part, we will start from this point of view, and we hope to decide on the basis of the car regulations for the GT500 class from the 2024 season onwards by the end of next year.”
Bandoh stressed that the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and other measures including the use of tyres manufactured from recycled rubber, will be a priority going forward.
Chairman Bandoh also expressed his gratitude towards everyone involved in the planning and execution of the 2020 Super GT Series, which successfully held all eight rounds without a high-profile outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“Thanks to all of you, we have been able to hold all eight rounds as planned this season. The fact that we were able to successfully host this final round is a result of the efforts of everyone involved in the Super GT series.”
“We at the GTA have created our own guidelines and roadmap for holding races while striving to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus infection, and I thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication. It must have been a very tough task, but thanks to your help, we have been able to hold Super GT races without the spread of infectious diseases. The way we have organized the event while taking infection prevention measures has had a great impact on other motorsports categories and fan events as well.”
The 2021 provisional calendar will see domestic venues such as Sportsland Sugo, Okayama International Circuit, and Autopolis International Racing Course return to the schedule, but Chairman Bandoh admitted that the planned fly-away rounds in Thailand and Malaysia may not happen again in 2021.
“We will continue to host a total of eight events as we have done in the past. Next year, we will have races at Okayama International Circuit, Sportsland Sugo, and Autopolis, where we were forced to give up hosting the Super GT event this year. For this reason, in the last round in Motegi, in addition to the organizers of this year’s Fuji Speedway, people from Sportsland Sugo and Autopolis came to watch the race, and in this race, we have had visitors from Okayama International Circuit.”
“On the other hand, as for the overseas races, under the current circumstances, it is unlikely that they will be held,” Chairman Bandoh commented. “Also, there is the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to consider, and we will have to wait and see what happens with the novel coronavirus in the future.” The first 2020 calendar was originally structured in a way that it would not interfere with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will still plan to use Fuji Speedway as a venue for road cycling events.
“However, I believe that the situation [with the coronavirus outbreak] will remain at the current level at best. Therefore, I am asking each organizer to consider how to make hosting races viable even if ticket sales are restricted. I would also like to work with the organizers to come up with a system that will allow more spectators to come to the track and watch the races, while still preventing the spread of infection.”