The Suzuka Circuit East Course will provide the challenge for drivers contesting WTCR Race of Japan from 25-27 October. With Races 1 and 2 taking place over 24 laps, and Race 3 covering 28 laps, the grid will be almost constantly in view of the fans watching from the grandstands.
For the viewers watching live coverage around the world, plenty of close racing is expected. Used for WTCC Race of Japan between 2011 and 2013, the 2.243-kilometre layout features the legendary First Turn – a classic down-hill right-hander where Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost famously collided at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix in 1990. It also includes the S Corner sweeps and a section of the Dunlop Corner before it swings sharp right onto the iconic start/finish straight.
The decision to switch from the Suzuka Circuit Full Course layout to the East Course respects the FIA’s safety requirements and has been taken jointly by circuit operator and event promoter Mobilityland and WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup promoter Eurosport Events.
This is because large sections of the Full Course are lined with urethane safety barriers. While these are mandatory for FIM-sanctioned motorbike events, they do not conform to the circuit’s stringent FIA homologation for car racing.
Because there is not enough time to remove the urethane barriers in place around the Full Course before the WTCR event and then reinstall them afterwards due to other circuit-based activities, the significantly shorter East Course will be used instead.
Kaoru Tanaka, President, Mobilityland Corporation, said: “In order to hold the WTCR and Super Formula on the same weekend and calling them the 4 & 4 Races, three parties; the FIA, Eurosport Events and Suzuka Circuit; have been discussing since last year the best racing format for that event. We are deeply grateful to the FIA for approving the new venue. We will remove urethane barriers in order to conform with the FIA safety standard but at the same time we will be able to make sure to increase to more entertaining race. That is the reason to reach the agreement.
“The WTCR is an exciting racing event with especially heated races. At the East Course spectators can watch the cars jostle with each other through various corners and enjoy the uniquely stadium-style atmosphere. We know it will be an exciting weekend for motorsport fans.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, said: “Safety is always the number one consideration. Using the East Course ensures WTCR Race of Japan will go ahead as it’s possible to change three kilometers of urethane barriers in the limited time that’s available before and after the scheduled race weekend. The East Course is a tried and tested layout for WTCR and we look forward to some great action.”