Every promoter wants to see a season close with the leading teams battling over a championship heading into the final race, something the GT Asia Series has been able to achieve consistently over recent years, but no more so than the 2015 season where the title contenders started that last race of the year on equal points and side-by-side on the front row of the grid.
It’s old news now that Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Darryl O’Young was classified the race winner and the team’s first series champion after eleven rounds in five countries and whilst last season will be a tough act to follow, the 2016 calendar promises a lot more of the same.
Heading into the sixth season of the Asian region’s leading GT series, teams will have the chance to compete on a number of venues that are well known to the GT Asia Series regulars, as well as a couple of venues which will present new challenges.
As it has done over the last two seasons, the 2016 Series will begin at the Yeongam Circuit in South Korea in mid-May, before returning to Thailand for the second event on the calendar in mid-June at Buriram, a popular venue which was new to the series last year. Just three weeks later teams will return to Okayama for the third time, with the popular Fuji circuit hosting the fourth event just two weeks later.
Then it’s on to Shanghai in early September for the first of two Chinese events, the second – and season finale – at the internationally classified Zhejiang Circuit, the all-new 3.2-kilometre Grade 2 FIA venue which is located just 180-kilometres south-west of Shanghai.
“We’re proud to reveal what is an exciting calendar for the 2016 season,” David Sonenscher, the CEO of Motorsport Asia admitted.
“Unlike 2015, we will return purely to a sprint race format after introducing the Sepang 3-Hour last year. The event proved popular, but teams voted against the concept, preferring to compete across a series of 60-minute races as we have done in the past.
“We’re also returning to Buriram which was a very popular addition to the Series in 2015, and we will close out the season at the new Zhejiang Circuit in southern China. It’s fantastic that they have developed another international class circuit like Zhejiang in China, and a pleasure for GT Asia to be invited to be one of the first international categories to compete at the venue.”
Whilst the venues have confirmed, so too have a number of established GT Asia Series regulars, and there has also been a steady flow of interest from some of the leading GT3 teams in the world.
“We saw some big commitments in 2015 from teams with strong factory connections, and a steady stream of international drivers competing in the Series. Already we’ve had contact from more teams within Asia looking to campaign 2016 specification GT3 cars, as well as from European factories that are looking to enter their own teams in GT Asia, so it’s important that we continue to improve the Series and I think the collection of events we have in place for 2016 will do just that.”
2016 GT Asia Series – calendar
TEST DAYS, 9-10 May – Korea International Circuit (South Korea)
Rnd#1/#2, 13-15 May – Korea International Circuit (South Korea)
Rnd#3/#4, 10-12 June – Buriram International Circuit (Thailand)
Rnd#5/#6, 1-3 July – Okayama International Circuit (Japan)
Rnd#7/#8, 15-17 July – Fuji International Speedway (Japan)
Rnd#9/#10, 2-4 September – Shanghai International Circuit (China)
Rnd#11/#12, 21-23 October – Zhejiang Circuit (China)