The entry list for the 2016 edition of the Motul Sepang 12 Hours has been finalised. With 25 cars in six categories, thirteen of them GT3 cars, the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge promises to be an exciting affair on all levels. Today sees the first two free practice sessions, with the qualifying session and the Top 15 Shootout taking place on Friday afternoon.
The Motul Sepang 12 Hours is living up to its reputation as the most important endurance race in South East Asia. Drivers and teams from Europe, Australia and Asia have flocked to the Sepang International Circuit to end the 2016 racing season in style. 81 drivers, at the wheel of 25 cars, will decide the outcome of this hot and humid race.
The majority of the cars are entered in the GT3 class, with works-supported teams aplenty. Porsche brings an all-factory driver line-ups to drive the two Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3R, while Audi Sport Team Phoenix is entering two Audi R8 LMS, also with plenty of experienced drivers. The same can be said of the line-up of the K-PAX entered McLaren, and representatives of Ferrari (Singha Motorsports Team, Nexus Infinity, HubAuto Racing, Spirit of Race and T2 Motorsport), Mercedes (Saitama Toyopet Green Brave) and Lamborghini (J-Loc) make the GT3 battle even more interesting. The agreement between Super GT promoters GTA and the SRO Motorsports Group has increased the number of teams from Japan, with J-Loc, APR (Toyota Prius), HubAuto Racing and Saitama Toyopet Green Brave all bringing GT3 machines to Sepang.
The inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ championship will be decided at Sepang, with McLaren driver Shane Van Gisbergen as well as Audi drivers Laurens Vanthoor and René Rast still in the running for the title. Both McLaren and Audi teams will also try and conquer the manufacturers’ title.
This year’s edition of the Motul Sepang 12 Hours sees the introduction of the increasingly popular GT4 category. With Simpson Motorsport and Ayelzo Ecotint Racing representing Ginetta and Muta Racing bringing a Lexus RC350 to Sepang, this race-within-the-race could become quite interesting.
The same goes for GTC category. B-Quik Racing would love to repeat its class podium from last year, but the Audi will face strong competition. GDL Racing, fourth in class last year, have switched from Porsche to Lamborghini, while Belgian team SpeedLover enters a single Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
The Motul Sepang 12 Hours is also open to Touring Cars, with Australian Jim Hunter Motorsports’ Subaru Impreza taking up the gauntlet against the Honda Civic Type R of Team ST Powered, the Toyota GT86 of Amuse & SPV Racing and the Viper Niza Racing Seat Leon TC. And do not forget the newcomers of Australian team MARC Cars. Their Focus and Mazda 3, both with V8 engines, could produce some stunning performances.
Thursday sees the first two practice sessions (including a two hour night session), with the third practice session on Friday morning. Qualifying starts at 3pm on Friday afternoon, with the Top 15 Cars Shootout starting at 4.15 pm. On Saturday noon the official Lamborghini Huracan Safety Car will lead the field around the 5.542 km long Sepang circuit for a final time before the race gets underway with a rolling start. At midnight we will know who will succeed to Laurens Vanthoor, Stéphane Ortelli and Stuart Leonard as winners of the Motul Sepang 12 Hours.
Members of the public should note that during the whole event the entrance to the grandstands is completely free.
Lawrence Tomlinson(Ginetta Chairman): "I am delighted to see that we have two Ginetta GT4 cars running in the Motul Sepang 12 Hours. Ginetta have worked for many years with the SRO team and helped establish this extremely affordable way into GT racing. I am sure SRO and GT4 will be a massive success in Asia - Ginetta are proud to be a part of that success."
Carlo Van Dam(#11 Singha Motorsport Team Ferrari): “Our ambition is to win the Pro-Am class, but we have a bigger aim as well. We have just switched to the Ferrari 488, and we have two new drivers, but we would like to show that we are able to run the 488 on a very high level compared to the European teams that have come to race in Asia. Key to success here in Sepang is to have a comfortable car and good communication between drivers and team.”
Naoki Hattori(#52 Saitama Toyopet Green Brave Mercedes): “Our team would like to move up a level and we see this Motul Sepang 12 Hours as a practice race to do so. We are used to drive in these hot conditions in the Japanese summer, so that should not give us any problem. Endurance racing is getting more popular all the time in Japan, and we are happy to be able to compete against teams from Europe and Asia, here in the Motul Sepang 12 Hours.”
Earl Bamber(#911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Sepang is virtually a home race for me. I’ve turned countless laps on this racetrack. Our 911 GT3 R performed very well in Macau and that’s promising for Sepang. Hopefully we’ll score the victory there that we deserved in Macau. The big challenges will be the heat and tyre wear.”