The SRO Motorsports Group has announced a revised 2021 calendar for the GT World Challenge Asia Powered By AWS, which aims to return from a year-long sabbatical with 12 one-hour races held across six months and five venues across east and southeast Asia.
The first two race meetings will be held in Malaysia at Sepang International Circuit, the first to be held on 29-30 May, and the second to be held on 19-20 June – a date that was originally announced back in October when the SRO’s provisional 2021 calendars were announced. Prior to these meetings, there will be an optional pre-season test at Sepang in April, at a date to be confirmed later.
Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, will host the third double-header meeting on 3-4 July – the July calendar slot was originally set to be held either in Buriram or at Autopolis International Racing Course in Japan.
Twin Ring Motegi, a circuit which makes its debut in GT World Challenge Asia, will host the fourth meeting on 7-8 August. With that, this will allow any GTWC Asia teams to remain in Japan for the prestigious Suzuka 10 Hours, the 49th running of the Suzuka Summer Endurance Race, which will be held on 21-22 August as the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Shanghai International Circuit in China will host the penultimate race meeting on 11-12 September, and the season will conclude in China on 16-17 October, at Zhuhai International Circuit, which will host a round in an SRO-sanctioned championship for the first time since the 2007 FIA GT Championship.
By concluding the regular season in China, it will allow teams to easily enter the 2021 Macau Grand Prix in November at a date to be confirmed later.
“SRO Motorsports Group has also taken a pragmatic and responsible approach to addressing the unique logistical and social challenges facing a championship staged across Asia,” the series stated in a press release on Thursday. “Starting more than a month later than usual, and with a provision to push back still further if necessary, offers the best possible chance to avoid any lingering travel restrictions in the region. Likewise, hosting official pre-season testing and the first two events at Sepang, where most teams base their cars over the winter, reduces logistical costs and concerns.”
The introduction of GT Sprint Asia adds a new element to two GT World Challenge Asia weekends next year, the June round in Sepang, and the season finale at Zhuhai. These races will be 40-minutes long, feature a single driver, and will be open to an array of cars from the rebooted GT2 class, current and previous-generation GT3, GTC, and GT4 class entries.
Prize money for the series totalling $300,000 USD will remain unchanged in 2021 from the previous season.
As was the case in 2019, teams are mandated to field one Asian driver per entry in 2021 to encourage regional participation. Prospective two-car GT4 entries will receive a 50 percent discount on the entry fees for their second car, and also in GT4, the Am/Am driver crews will be subject to a shorter minimum pitstop time than those in the new Silver/Am category that will be introduced in 2021.
Also, every race of the upcoming 2021 season will be free to watch, anywhere in the world, on the SRO’s live-streaming services.
2021 GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS Provisional Calendar (updated 10 December):
Sepang – May 29/30 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Sepang – June 19/20 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4 + GT Sprint Asia 2x races
Buriram – July 3/4 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Motegi – August 7/8 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Shanghai – September 11/12 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4
Zhuhai – October 16/17 – 2x 1hr races – GT3/4 + GT Sprint Asia 2x races
Sepang – April TBC – Optional official testing
Suzuka 10H – August 21-22 – Non-championship (Intercontinental GT Challenge)
Macau – November (TBC) – Non-championship (Macau Grand Prix)