At his annual press conference during the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Founder and CEO Stephane Ratel unveiled the plans of the SRO Motorsports Group for the near future. Not only will all the existing SRO Series continue, with some minor tweaks, but there will also be some new initiatives.
Due to the ever-increasing popularity of the Blancpain GT Series, the most important championship for GT3 cars on the planet, Stephane Ratel was happy to announce that this success story will continue almost unchanged in 2018. The existing formula of ten races - five in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and five in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup - will be maintained in 2018, with only minor changes to the existing calendar. Zolder will swap dates with Misano, to become the season opener.
Further evolutions include an increased focus on the Pro-Am category, to preserve the status of the amateur driver as the backbone of the series, and increased prize money. On the sporting side GPS positioning of the cars will be introduced, while a new digital strategy, developed in collaboration with the manufacturers, and the new and impressive Blancpain hospitality will improve the promotion of the championship.
The highlight of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series season will of course be the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which celebrates its 70th edition next year. The endurance classic is also included in the third season of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the premium global championship for GT cars. On the Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar, the Suzuka 10 Hours will take the place of the Motul Sepang 12 Hours as the Asian round of the series.
However, the endurance race in the Malaysian capital will be part of a new championship: the Asia Pacific 36. This will bring together the race in Sepang along with the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (which will also be the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge), and the Hampton Downs 12 Hours in New Zealand, thus creating an exciting Southern hemisphere tour during the European winter.
After a more than successful inaugural season, the Blancpain GT Series Asia will continue with a similar calendar in 2018, but there will also be a stand-alone GT4 Series that will race together with the GT3 cars in Fuji and Suzuka. Renewed transport support will help to further develop the series.
In the United States the Pirelli World Challenge has enjoyed a successful introduction of the extended Sprint format in 2017, with the inaugural Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours meeting yet to come, during the month of October.
The 2018 calendar of the Blancpain GT Sports Club, SRO Motorsports Group’s Bronze-only drivers series, sees few changes, although it will now include two rounds in Italy.
In the British GT championship stability in the calendar is key, but while preserving the presence of GT3 cars, more room will be created for GT4 racing. A separate British GT4 Cup will be created, which will be run semi-independently from British GT. The British GT4 Cup will not be the only regional platform using the GT4 formula. After a brilliant inaugural season the French GT4 Cup (FFSA GT) continues along the same lines in 2018, as well as a newly-launched Central European GT4 Cup and a possible Southern GT4 Cup. All those regional platforms will use a Pro-Am format.
The traditional GT4 European Series will have all six events on F1 circuits during the Blancpain GT Series weekends and will sometimes be mixed with regional Cup grids. It will be the only GT4 Series allowing a Silver class.
The SRO Motorsports Group continues to maintain ongoing global developments with new GT4 franchise agreements signed with Australia GT and Creventic, in addition to China GT, IMSA, Pirelli World Challenge and VLN.
Stephane Ratel (Founder and CEO SRO Motorsports Group): "I am delighted to confirm that all the series organized by the SRO Motorsports Group show a clean bill of health. Not only do teams and drivers want to be part of modern GT racing, but an ever increasing number of race fans thoroughly appreciate the spectacle that is on offer. As the SRO Motorsports Group, we will do our utmost best to provide them with the best GT racing in the world for years to come."