Auto GP has announced its calendar for the 2012 season, adding the European-based open-wheel series' first race in North America. Auto GP will run alongside the World Touring Car Championship – also making its U.S. debut – at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on the weekend of Sept. 22-23. The U.S. race will serve as the season finale, following a race in Brazil in July.
The season will kick off at Monza on March 11. The Donington Park (GB) and Suzuka (Japan) races included on the draft calendar for April 14 and Oct. 21 have been dropped. Instead, the championship will race on a street circuit in Marrakech and Brno, in the Czech Republic. The series, which will race alongside the WTCC at all rounds, has also announced its new name will be Auto GP World Series.
"When, in 2010, we decided to create Auto GP, we knew that 'step by step' had to be our leitmotif, that the package we were offering to teams and drivers had to be improved season after season," said series boss Enzo Coloni. "I'm happy that we managed to do that also for 2012, turning Auto GP into 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.
"When I look at the feeder series scenario I see some championships that are using high-sounding names but then, in the real world, can't keep up to their promises. In our case, 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."
Auto GP features spec Lola chassis powered by 550hp, 3.4-liter V8 Zytek engines. Each race weekend features doubleheader races, with the grid for the second race on Sunday set by the finishing order of the first, with the top eight positions reversed. The Sunday race runs between the two WTCC races.
2012 Auto GP Series:
March 10-11 Monza (I)
March 31-April 1 Valencia (E)
April 14-15 Marrakech (MA)
May 5-6 Budapest (H)
June 2-3 Estoril (P)
July 21-22 Curitiba (BR)
Sept. 22-23 Sonoma, Calif.