Audi and Winkelhock secure Intercontinental GT Challenge as Sepang 12 Hours cancelled

by Vince Pettit

SRO Motorsports Group has taken the decision to cancel the upcoming Motul Sepang 12 Hours which was due to take place 7-10 December.

SRO has been overseeing the race since 2015 and has blamed low public attendance levels for making it hard for manufacturers to justify the expense of competing at the endurance race.

With more end-of-season endurance race opportunities available, manufactures have looked elsewhere after the Intercontinental GT Challenge became a two-horse battle follow the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca.

Added to this was the decision to switch next seasons Asian round from Sepang to Suzuka 10 hours, reducing the motivation of Japanese teams for the upcoming race.

Despite the cancellation, SRO are continuing to work closely with Sepang International Circuit to re-evaluate a concept that will secure the future of the 12 Hour race.

Benjamin Franassovici, Motul Sepang 12 Hours General Manager said “It’s been a very difficult decision. Obviously we never want to cancel an event, and SRO certainly doesn’t make a habit of it, but we feel this is the only realistic option available to us less than six weeks before the race is due to take place.

“SRO rightly considers an endurance event featuring less than 18 cars unviable. It’s also important to retain the Sepang 12 Hours’ spectacle, and – given the present situation – I don’t think that would have been possible in 2017.

“Cancelling suitably ahead of time is therefore considered a more responsible option than staging a high-profile endurance race below capacity.”

With the cancellation of Sepang, the Intercontinental GT Challenge Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles were decided from the three previous rounds, the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa, and Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours, meaning that Audi take the manufacturers title with Markus Winkelhock securing the drivers title.

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