Bandoh was speaking in his regular press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Fuji 500km Golden Week fixture, which is set to be the only race on this year’s schedule to be run over a distance longer than the standard 300km.
Every race on last year’s COVID-19-impacted calendar was run to 300km, but in 2018 and ’19 there were long races at Fuji Speedway, one 500km and one 500 miles (805km), as well as a shorter season finale of 250km at Motegi.
Bandoh suggested that, for 2022, a typical 300km race could be extended by 50km, while keeping fuel tanks at their current size, in order to encourage manufacturers to develop more fuel-efficient engines.
“The numbers are not official yet, but for example, a standard 300km race will be increased to about 350km, and a 500km round like this one will be increased to about 560km,” said Bandoh.
“The race distance will be increased, but the number of tyres brought in will be reduced, and the fuel tank capacity of the cars will remain the same as it is now, which will result in more fuel-efficient vehicles and move us towards becoming carbon-neutral.”
A 350km-race would remain easily achievable for GT500 cars to complete with one pitstop, with stints up to 200km in length having become routine in the series in recent years.
Synthetic fuels on the agenda for 2024
Bandoh also spoke in detail about the GTA’s current thinking for the next-generation GT500 rules, due to be introduced in 2024 after the current rules cycle was extended by a year owing to the pandemic.
He said the new ruleset would feature a “strong focus on environmental friendliness and cost reduction”, with a longer-term target of carbon-neutral engines by 2030, but said that synthetic fuels, or ‘e-fuels’, would provide the starting point towards achieving this objective.
While Bandoh was asked specifically for his thoughts on electric powertrains, he pointed out the need to ensure that the GT300 class remains affordable for smaller teams.
“In addition to the GT500 class, in which car manufacturers that develop cars directly participate, there is also the GT300 class, in which many teams purchase cars that are sold on the market, such as the FIA GT3 cars,” Bandoh said. “So for SUPER GT to become carbon neutral, we think it is good to start with ‘e-fuels’ [in 2024].
“Then in 2027, when the next GT500 vehicle regulations are introduced, we will make further significant environmental improvements, and then we will consider how we can have a 100 percent carbon-neutral power unit by 2030.”
Additional reporting by Ryo Harada