The Japanese leg of the World Touring Car Championship will switch from the TI Aida circuit in Okayama to Formula 1’s stomping ground, Suzuka, from the 2011 season onwards.

WTCC’s Bernie Ecclestone chief promoter Marcello Lotti has claimed the decision to WTCC Okayamaswitch to the famed Suzuka circuit is due to “commercial reasons”.

The Okayama circuit has played host to several thrilling WTCC events for three seasons to-date, most notable being Tom Coronel’s thrilling outright victory as an Independent Trophy driver in the wet in 2008. The same venue was used as a host of the ‘Pacific Grand Prix’ for Formula 1 in 1994-5, but was deemed a failure with poor accessibility and on-track action.

It seems the the accessibility issue may the principal cause of concern for the WTCC – located in the Japanese hinterland, the privately-owned circuit is accessible by a single road, and is a logistical nightmare to access.

“We feel honoured to run at Suzuka,” Lottis said. “The decision to move from Okayama was mainly led by commercial needs, although we are very happy with our co-operation with Okayama.

“In these three years they have believed in the potential of WTCC and worked hard to help it become popular with the fans. But WTCC is growing fast and every year we must provide more and larger spaces for hospitalities, VIP reception, commercial and promotional activities.

“Suzuka will enable us to achieve this, especially after it was radically restructured to host Formula 1.”

Logic dictates that the Suzuka date will be added to the same calendar slot – the penultimate event before the season-ending Macau street race – as Okayama.

[Original images via FIA WTCC official website]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.