Despite the cancellation of this year’s KL City Grand Prix round in Malaysia, the Australian Supercars Championship has not lost hope of expanding its footprint into Asia, with deals reportedly struck to stage races in Indonesia and China as early as next year.
A draft 2017 championship calendar will require final sign-off from the FIA before being publicly released during the weekend of the forthcoming Sandown 500 in September.
The Kuala Lumpur street circuit round remains off the calendar while the protracted legal dramas that prevented this year’s event from being staged continue to be played out.
Instead, it seems that Indonesia’s 4.1-kilometre Sentul circuit, located 50 kilometres south of the capital Jakarta, will join the calendar. The circuit has previously played host to the GP2 Asia Series and now-defunct A1GP championship (pictured above) and is rumoured to be a future venue for the MotoGP series.
The details of a race in Thailand are less clear, although it is understood that the Supercars Championship is planning on a street circuit round on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Bangkok.
Surprisingly it looks unlikely that the two planned Asian events will be paired together – a logical arrangement to cut the high overseas freight costs to both locations – and will be slated as standalone events in May and August.
The addition of the Indonesian and Thai rounds means there are 17 venues vying for 16 calendar slots, putting one of the established championship rounds at risk.
The most likely domino to fall would be Winton Raceway, currently without a signed deal beyond 2016. Its sister Victorian round at Phillip Island – which has historically struggled to attract crowds and major funding – is also at risk, despite circuit owners having a contract in place for next year.
Queensland Raceway’s new contract extension – which requires major upgrades to be completed to the Ipswich circuit – is currently provisional.
Confirmed already is the departure of the season-ending Sydney 500 at Sydney Olympic Park, which is set to be replaced by a new street circuit round in Newcastle. An official announcement confirming that deal is expected soon.
Image via A1GP