July 2012 China Autosport Magazine

Is 2012 delivering on its promise to be an exciting year for motorsport?

What is the situation in 2012?
A few new series have started in 2012. In an article that I wrote at the end of 2011, I mentioned a number of new projects that were going to be at the forefront of the motorsport scene this year. Some have made it to the tracks, some are still in the project phase. It is a lot of work to start a new series and many people probably underestimate the investment required. It is a must to have at the very least, support from the Automobile Sports Federation, some form of manufacturer involvement, sponsors, good relationships with racetracks and, in some cases, even local governments.

New series, new projects in 2012:
One of the new series on the market that is generating a lot of talk, is the Audi R8 LMS Cup China. Within a tight timeframe of just a few months, Audi found an operator and drivers, car dealers to support their teams, and finalized a calendar. Obviously, as this is Audi’s first worldwide R8 Cup, it has required the involvement & support of Audi Germany in building the cars & providing the necessary technical support. But for Audi, and most other premium manufacturers, China is such an important market that the whole project and costs involved, are well worth the investment and effort. Lamborghini, for which China is becoming the number 1 market, has also launched the Lamborghini Trofeo Asia, another top-end series, this year

But it is even harder for non-manufacturers to implement a series, for example, the Asian Le Mans Series, a mixed GT and prototype series which is a spin-off from the internationally renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2011, I was involved in building a project plan to secure partners, investors, & sponsors, to start this series in Asia with Oreca Motorsport (a leading European motorsport company now based in Hong Kong and Shanghai and involved in Endurance racing), under
the umbrella of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (the Western France Automobile Club). But a year later, the top management has changed, the project is now managed directly by the ACO, and the start date has still not been announced.

There are also other Le Mans projects kicking off this year – after 2 successful years in Zhuhai, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) China Round, will take place in Shanghai this October, where it will take on a bigger circuit, bigger city, bigger grandstand. Let’s look forward to this October event, which will showcase some of the world’s largest manufacturers like Audi and Toyota, who will be bringing their new hybrid prototypes to the track.

But motorsport is not just about the top racing series, it’s also about ‘grassroot’ racing. Racing at the local level is where it all begins, where people discover the thrills of motorsport and become passionate about racing. In the past decade, there has been increasing demand for sports cars, modification services, and training programs. One of the companies catering to this new group of passionate drivers and focusing on high-end sports cars, is Unique Motorsport. Based at the Shanghai International Circuit, they put together track days, supercar festivals, provide services to sports car owners, and sell high-end equipment. At the end of May, they brought together a few hundred of the rarest sportscars in Shanghai Circuit and organized a whole weekend of activities. All the big names could be seen around the track: Bugatti Veyron, Koenigsegg, Pagani Zonda, Lamborghini LP700, Bentley, Ferrari 599, Porsche GT3 RS and even the more specialized KTM Crossbow.

Until the end of 2012, there will also be other exciting series like the WTCC in Shanghai, Ferrari Challenge, the GT3 Asia, the PCCA, and the yearly Macao Grand Prix, the CTCC and the Pan Delta Super Racing Festival. For motorbike fans, there is the usual CSBK events, now operated by the Chinese Motorcycle Association (CMSA), and the FIM Asian Road Racing Championship, to look forward to.

With a packed calendar of exciting events, 2012 is definitely shaping up to be a great year for motorsport fans, drivers and promoters alike!

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