Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sepang 12 Hours Sets Up Exciting Intercontinental GT Challenge

SHAH ALAM, 24 November 2015 – The Sepang 12 Hours 2015 was officially launched today, jointly organised by Sepang International Circuit (SIC) and the SRO Motorsports Group. The event will be part of the new Intercontinental GT Challenge, to be launched in 2016. At the launch, Dato’ Razlan Razali, Chief Executive Officer of SIC and Stephane Ratel, Founder and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group both stressed the importance of the collaboration for the future of the Sepang 12 Hours.
“We are proud to collaborate with the SRO Motorsports Group in organising the Sepang 12 Hours. By moving the 12-hour endurance race away from August, thus changing its name from the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, and organising the event at the end of the year, we aim to enable participation by more world class drivers and established endurance race teams. With the SRO Motorsports Group’s vast experience in organising major international endurance and sprint races, we are confident that the race will potentially become a key event in the world endurance racing calendar,” said Dato’ Razlan.
With major teams from both Europe and the Australasian region at the start of the Sepang 12 Hours, the gruelling race has become even more difficult. Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini, Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes, Porsche, Subaru and Toyota bring the total of prestigious brands on the entry list to eleven, all represented by top teams. All of these exciting racing machines are in the hands of GT- and Touring Car-specialists, with several former (and reigning) champions at the start.
Singapore-based Clearwater Racing will do everything in its power to take its third consecutive overall victory, and with a driver line-up including last year’s winner Gimmi Bruni, triple Sepang 12 Hours-winner Mok Weng Sun, 2015 Blancpain Endurance Pro-Am champion Matt Griffin and GT World championship stalwart James Calado, the #1 Ferrari deserves its status of favourite.
But the competition will be tough. With Maxi Buhk, Vincent Abril, Stéphane Ortelli, Laurens Vanthoor, Christopher Mies and Christopher Haase all on the entry list, there are several Blancpain GT Series champions at the start, all competing for factory supported entries from Audi and Bentley. And that is not all. The McLarens of FFF Racing Team by ACM should not be counted out, nor should be Team AAI HubAuto’s Mercedes, with Japanese aces Hiroki Yoshimoto and Nobuteru Taniguchi at the wheel. In addition, Peter Kox, former winner of the B-Quick Racing Audi R8 Cup and local hero (and former F1-racer) Alex Yoong will be in action.
Stephane Ratel. Founder and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group said, “We are extremely happy to see that our cooperation with the Sepang International Circuit on the Sepang 12 Hours project is bearing fruit. This is an important event for us, since we want to create high profile GT3 events in the Asia-Pacific region. This year, the Sepang 12 Hours will still be run as a stand-alone event, but next year it will play an important part in the success of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.”
At the Sepang 12 Hours 2015 launch, the Intercontinental GT Challenge, to be launched by the SRO Motorsports Group in 2016, was also introduced, together with the series’ new logo. The Sepang 12 Hours joins the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Circuit of the Americas 6 Hours and Total 24 Hours of Spa in the inaugural calendar of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the first-ever global GT3 Series. This new Challenge is aimed at manufacturers, who are encouraged to use local teams to represent them in these leading GT3 races, as it is more cost- and time-effective to fly engineers and drivers rather than cars and equipment around the world.
John Casey, the Event Director for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour commented, “The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the most prestigious motorsport events in the world and we are excited to be joining other iconic events in the International GT Challenge. The Challenge will bring significant international exposure to the race at one of the world’s most famous circuits. The race will also feature some of the leading drivers from Australia and around the world and is an event motorsport fans won’t want to miss.”
Both a manufacturers’ and a drivers’ title will be awarded in the Pro category, while a Drivers’ title will be awarded in Pro-Am. The events will all have common technical regulations and the BOP will be managed by SRO. The Intercontinental GT Challenge will represent the highest achievement in long distance GT racing. By uniting these iconic events in one series, the level of racing at each round will certainly increase, improving the attractiveness of the event to fans, sponsors, media, drivers and teams alike. Substantial television coverage is also expected across the world.
Calendar for Intercontinental GT Challenge
Australia – 6-7 February 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour
USA – 5-6 March 2016 Circuit of the Americas 6 Hours
Belgium – 28-31 July 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa
Malaysia – 10-11 December 2016 – Sepang 12 Hours

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