The FIA World Touring Car Cup’s visit to Suzuka not be held on the circuit’s full Grand Prix layout but instead on the shorter East Course configuration.
At 2.243 kilometres, the East Course layout comprises the first part of the Grand Prix circuit, sweeping through the Esses before making a hard right halfway through the Dunlop Curve to feed back onto the start/finish straight.
It is the same configuration adopted during the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s events between 2011 and 2013, which all proved to be rather devoid of overtaking.
The official reason for the change is due an apparent lack of available time to remove and reinstall the urethane safety barriers required for FIM-sanctioned motorcycle events that take place on the full Grand Prix course.
These do not conform to the barriers required for FIA-homologated car races and are therefore removed for events such as the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.
With the WTCR round sharing double-billing with the Super Formula Championship finale on October 25-27 – a series which does not face the same restrictions – these urethane barriers cannot be used on the entire track layout.
The Suzuka circuit has testing events scheduled in the fortnight after the Japanese Grand Prix on October 13 and also requires the urethane barriers for a round of the All-Japan Superbike Championship on the weekend after the WTCR / Super Formula double-header.
With a 14-day period needed for a full barrier change on the entire circuit – seven days to remove the urethane barriers and a further seven days to reinstall them – there will only be enough time to change the barriers on the East Course layout so that the WTCR field can compete.
The Super Formula Championship will stage its race on the entire Grand Prix layout.
It should be noted that last year’s WTCR round ran on the full Grand Prix layout with the All-Japan Superbike finale taking place a week later, as is the case this year.
Image via FIA WTCR Media and Francoscafe.it