Proton get invitation to race in Japan GT Championship

OKAYAMA: Grand Touring Association (GT-A) have invited Malaysian car manufacturer Proton to compete in Japan's number one motorsports race – the Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC). 

GT-A secretary-general Jiro Kaji said that based on championship regulations, Proton could participate in the GT300 class with their V-6 three-litre cars. 

“We are really interested to expand the race market and spectators to Asia-Pacific countries as until now this race is still a Japanese race,” he said after Round One of the JGTC at the Tanaka International Circuit Aida over the weekend. 

“For that reason, we are welcoming more manufacturers from countries like Malaysia and South Korea to compete against well-known Japanese car makers.” 

Kaji said that GT-A would assist Proton to tune their cars to compete in the gruelling race, mostly held during cold weather at six Japanese circuits. 

So far, only one race is held outside Japan – in Malaysia's Sepang F1 Circuit. This year's event at Sepang will be held on June 18-19. 

If Proton agree to accept the JGTC invitation, they will probably race under the Proton-EON Racing Team (PERT) banner.  

So far, there are four foreign car makers – Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and Vemac – competing in the championships. 

Kuala Lumpur-based Amprex Motorsports, owned by Japanese driver and businessman Genji Hashimoto, is bringing a Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT for this season's GT500, beginning with the Sepang round. 

The JGTC series are currently dominated by the three Japanese car manufacturers – Nissan, Toyota and Honda. 

Kaji said that GT-A hoped to improve the standard of the JGTC series, making them on par with the German Touring Car Championships as well as the Champ Car Series in the United States. 

“This year is the championships' 11th year. It is not easy to maintain the same races as well as to meet demands by car manufacturers.  

“The costs are increasing but the fund has not increased,” he added. 

At least 11 foreign drivers will compete in the JGTC this season.  

Already in the fray are three Germans, four Frenchmen and one each from Australia, Britain, Italy and Portugal. – Bernama 

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