> Domestic sprint series’ class structure also finalised
> Four one-hour races each comprise SRO GT PowerTour’s Fuji, Suzuka and Okayama events
> 2024 calendar now complete following confirmation of Shanghai’s dates
> Suzuka also moves forward by one week
> 2024 Japan Cup Overview
SRO Motorsports Group’s Japan Cup will comprise eight standalone races next season when the domestic sprint championship splits from Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS.
Previously, Japan Cup was a ‘championship within a championship’ whose entrants contested all four Fanatec GT Asia events on Japanese soil. But that changes in 2024 when Japan Cup becomes a series in its own right, as well as the country’s only sprint format GT championship.
As previously announced, Sugo stages the standalone season opener before Japan Cup teams join their continental counterparts at Fuji, Suzuka and Okayama. These three events, which each feature four 60-minute races split equally between the two series, will become collectively known as SRO GT PowerTour.
As well as contesting their own races, Japan Cup competitors will also benefit from separate test, practice and qualifying sessions during all SRO GT PowerTour weekends.
GT3 and GT4 will remain Japan Cup’s primary classes. However, GT2 and GTC cars are also eligible to compete.
As per the existing regulations, only drivers with a JAF license are eligible to contest Japan Cup’s GT3 Pro-Am and Am classes next season. But GT4 – which retains its Silver-Am and Am categories – will be opened up to all Asian drivers (subject to some criteria).
This restructuring also reflects a change to Fanatec GT Asia where only GT3 cars can compete from next season.
Benjamin Franassovici, SRO Motorsports Group Asia General Manager: “The Japan Cup concept has proven very popular since launching in 2021, but with entries increasing and grid space becoming an issue now is the right time for it to evolve. Super GT reigns supreme and Super Taikyu has the endurance base covered, but – until now – there was no national GT sprint series that focused on Am drivers. That changes in 2024.
“We first informed teams and drivers of our plans at Okayama and have since received a lot of positive feedback. I would love to have an equal split of GT3 and GT4 cars, just like SRO has in British GT for instance, but we also know that might not be possible next year. However, we do see Japan Cup as being a destination series for Asia’s GT4 Am drivers who wish to race in a cost effective and competitive environment.”
Wider calendar finalised following Shanghai’s confirmation
More broadly, the 2024 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS campaign will conclude at Shanghai on September 14-15.
SRO Motorsports Group’s first visit to the Chinese Grand Prix circuit since Fanatec GT Asia’s 2019 finale was originally confirmed at the start of August, albeit without a date.
Races 11 and 12 of the pan-Asia series take place three weeks after the penultimate round at Okayama, which also stages the Japan Cup finale on August 24-25. That now standalone domestic championship begins with its own, non-Fanatec GT Asia event at Sugo in early June.
Sepang hosted 2023’s finale in September but is reverting to its traditional early season slot next year so that cars and equipment can be road-hauled to Thailand in time for rounds three and four at Chang. Malaysia’s April date is one month earlier than the championship’s recent curtain raisers but in line with its pre-pandemic calendars.
While teams contesting the Japan Cup then compete separately at Sugo, Fanatec GT Asia’s entries will instead move on to Fuji for rounds five and six of the regular season towards the end of June. Suzuka – now a week earlier than originally announced following essential changes to the circuit’s schedule – and Okayama then follow in July and August, just as they did this year.
With the four-event Japan Cup campaign complete, all eyes will then be on China and 2024’s overall championship decider when Shanghai rounds out the season.
The continent’s largest GT series comprises one-quarter of SRO’s global Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS format, which also includes championships in Europe, America and Australia.
Asia’s sprint series averaged more than 30 GT3 entries this year thanks, in part, to the return of Chinese teams and drivers en masse. More are expected in 2024.
UPDATED 2024 CALENDAR
April 20-21 // Sepang // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races
May 11-12 // Chang // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races
June 8-9 // Sugo // 2x 1hr Japan Cup races
June 22-23 // Fuji // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races & 2x 1hr Japan Cup races
July 6-7 // Suzuka // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races & 2x 1hr Japan Cup races
August 24-25 // Okayama // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races & 2x 1hr Japan Cup races
September 14-15 // Shanghai // 2x 1hr Fanatec GT Asia races