Auto GP announced an expansion to its 2012 calendar on Friday, giving the feeder category world series status, allowing the series to be renamed the “Auto GP World Series.”
The series will act as a support to the World Touring Car Championship for the duration of the season, allowing for visits to Africa and the Americas.
Alongside the three remaining events at Monza, Valencia and Budapest, Auto GP World Series will take in visits to Estoril (Portugal) and Marrakech (Morocco), before ending the season in Curitiba (Brazil) and Sonoma (USA). Dropped from the calendar are the events at Brno, Donington, Oschersleben and Mugello.
It makes for a somewhat awkward schedule, with the opening five rounds taking place by early June. From there, the series is to be racing at Curitiba in mid-July, with the final round in the US running in late September. As with 2011, each round is to be shown on Eurosport TV with HD coverage of all events.
Series boss Enzo Coloni expressed delight with the expansion:
“When in 2010 we decided to create Auto GP, we knew (…) the package we were offering to teams and drivers had to be improved season after season. I’m happy that we managed to do that also for 2012, turning Auto GP in the only top notch one-make Series that will race in three different continents. We are very proud of that, and that’s why decided to change our name in Auto GP World Series.
“What the fans will read in our name is what we are, the only feeder series with a real intercontinental calendar. I’m sure that the fans will appreciate the unique racing weekend we are providing together”.
More worrying for the Auto GP World Series is the current driver count. Only twenty days remain until the opening round at Monza and thus far, only four drivers (Facundo Regalia, Sergey Sirotkin, Daniel de Jong and Giancarlo Serenelli) have signed up for the 2012 season.
There will be more signings in the coming weeks, but the series is running the risk of being painfully shy of competitors.
It was also revealed earlier this month that Kumho tyres are to be the exclusive tyre supplier for the Auto GP World Series for the next season at least.
As with the likes of Formula 1 (etc), the South Korean tyre company will be supplying all competitors with a mixture of “soft” and “hard” compound tyres for use throughout a race weekend. Steve Thompson of Kumho Tyres Europe explained further:
“The new tyres provided our designers with a number of challenges. Firstly, they have to deal with the considerable power, speed and downforce created by these cars. Secondly, we were required to produce one compound that gave consistent performance throughout and one that initially performed better but also degraded faster – thereby providing the teams with a suitably demanding test of strategy and tyre management.
“The first challenge was meat and drink to our designers, owing to the inherent characteristics of our tyres. The second request was a harder nut to crack!”.
2012 Auto GP World Series calendar 10-11 March Monza, Italy 31 March-1 April Valencia, Spain 14-15 April Marrakech, Morocco 5-6 May Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary 2-3 June Estoril, Portugal 21-22 July Curitiba, Brazil 22-23 September Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, USA