20 years ago, marked the first time the Super GT racing extravaganza landed on the starting grid of the Sepang International Circuit and also the first time it left the shores of Japan. Back then, you may have known it as the JGTC or the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship before it switched to the current Super GT name.
Why the name change? We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s all bask in the glory that’s Super GT returning to its first ever international home, Malaysia. If that doesn’t get your engines revving, the 2020 Super GT Malaysia round will be a night race over the 16-19 July weekend.
Round 5 of the Super GT championship’s return to Malaysia comes six years after the final race was held at Sepang and will follow the only other international round on the championship’s calendar after Round 4 at Buriram Circuit in Thailand.
Now on a side note, let’s dive into the reasons behind the name change. Holding the championships in more than two countries would negate the “national championship” status under the FIA. Therefore, the “Japanese Championship” part of its name would have to go.
So, a name change was in order to identify with the new “international status.” This came about on 10 December 2004.
However, we’ll still one up all the other rounds as the Malaysian leg will be the first ever in the championship’s history to be a night race. Not only will this shield drivers, racecars and spectators from the dreaded heat but it’ll also open the door for the race to be marketed to western audiences.
Fans will also be able to cheer on a Malaysian wildcard team in the local leg. The duo comprises Jazeman Jaafar and Datuk Adrian da Silva behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT300 class. Racing simultaneously will be the more powerful GT500 machines that are now compliant with the new Class 1 regulations that puts them on par with the German Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) class. This explains the wacky justification on the GT500 Honda NSX machines having their engines in the front.
Although only three manufacturers are represented in the GT500 class; Toyota, Nissan and Honda, the 15 teams ensure that the action is full on till the end. Things get a little more exciting in the GT300 class with machines from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, Lotus and Subaru and Porsche.
Apart from the race itself, you can expect plenty of stuff to check out in the outdoor automotive expo in the open Mall area. Art of Speed will be leading the showcase together with displays by carmakers, automotive parts suppliers, aftermarket performance products, lifestyle accessories and everything else for enthusiasts.
Early bird deals see tickets start at RM80 for the K1 Grandstand and RM200 for the Main Grandstand. Want to be a proper baller? The GT Club Paddock is RM2,000. Kids from five to 12 and ticket holders with a kid in that age range will be eligible for the kid’s pit walk session on Thursday.
Now come some of the more interesting packages. The Experience, Ultimate and Dream packages include a GT Club Paddock ticket, a taxi ride around the circuit, a pit walk tour and the most exciting aspect of Super GT; the circuit safari experience where you’ll be in a moving bus on the circuit as the racecars zoom around you.
Seeing that Super GT falls under the Visit Malaysia 2020 banner, fans from out of the country will be able to get some great deals of flights and accommodation combos from Malaysia Airlines.
Last but certainly not the least, ticket holders stand the chance to win a Toyota GR Supra. For such a grand prize, it’s not going to be easy. You’ll need to predict the outcome of the race for the top finishers.