The all-female W Series motor racing championship has cancelled plans to race in Japan for the first time and will instead make its Asian debut in Singapore in October, organisers said on Wednesday.
The decision was due to “unforeseeable operational challenges”.
“Since we announced our 2022 race calendar in January, the global landscape has changed considerably,” said W series founder Catherine Bond Muir.
“It is with regret that we will not be racing in Japan this year … but the challenges involved in doing so have increased significantly in the past six months, meaning that for a young business like ours it is sadly no longer possible to hold a race there.”
Japan’s Suzuka was one of five new circuits this season for W Series, which has 10 races on the support programme at eight Formula One grands prix.
Singapore will be the seventh round and potentially the first floodlit event, with Formula One racing at night on the Marina Bay street circuit.
Bond Muir told Reuters Asia was a key market for the championship, whose drivers race in identical Formula Three cars.
“I want us to be a global business … every year I would like to make new strides. Asia was very important to put a flag down,” she said.
The Singapore grand prix is scheduled for the Oct. 1-2 weekend, one week before Japan, after being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Entry to Japan remains limited for visitors, with the country imposing strict border controls during the pandemic.
“I don’t know about the future but it would be fantastic if we could be in Singapore for a long-term deal,” said Bond Muir.
“We’ve been speaking to the Singapore promoter for a couple of years now because we’ve always wanted to go there. When Japan wasn’t feasible we picked up the conversations.”
W Series, launched in 2019 to help women reach Formula One, is in Hungary this weekend.
Britain’s double champion Jamie Chadwick has won all five races so far this season and the last seven in total.