> Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli entries comprise one-third of 2019’s grid
> Six of eight full-season manufacturers fill their #IntGTC quota
> Event’s biggest ever entry totals 72 cars
> Provisional entry list: Total 24 Hours of Spa
The biggest entry ever assembled for both an Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round and the Total 24 Hours of Spa was revealed in Belgium earlier today.
#IntGTC’s eight full-season manufacturers have collectively nominated 28 of the 72 cars contesting this year’s race, which is regarded as the world’s biggest and most prestigious for GT3 machinery.
The provisional entry list was revealed during this week’s official two-day test in the Ardennes where 2019’s five-round Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign reaches it halfway mark on July 25-28.
Although several pieces have yet to fall into place, the majority of this year’s line-ups are set. And they include some surprises…
Perhaps the biggest concerns championship leaders Maxi Buhk, Maxi Goetz and Raffaele Marciello who have been split for Spa. While the Germans remain with GruppeM Racing, their Italian counterpart will be representing his Blancpain GT Series squad, AKKA ASP. However, he and the team have also been nominated to score #IntGTC points for Mercedes-AMG.
Their nearest rivals in the Manufacturers’ Championship, Porsche, are also spoilt for choice. In fact, such is the quality of their four nominated entries that there’s no room for factory drivers Frédéric Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy who instead share ROWE Racing’s garage with Stuttgart’s two full-season #IntGTC crews. The other two nominations feature recently crowned FIA WEC champions Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, as well as Earl Bamber whose eponymous team won February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Ferrari, who occupy third in the Manufacturers’ standings, have also rolled out the big guns at Spa by nominating pseudo factory squads, AF Corse and SMP Racing, alongside full-season #IntGTC outfit and California 8 Hours winner, HubAuto Corsa. This year’s Le Mans winners James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra are all involved, too.
Bentley has registered four #IntGTC entries for the first time ever, and also mixed up one of its long-established partnerships by splitting Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet. The British squad’s 12th ‘Bentley Boy’ has also been revealed: IMSA SportsCar Championship star, Pipo Derani.
Audi also fields its full complement of four entries. #IntGTC’s reigning champions have added three-time FIA WTCC title winner Jose Maria Lopez to a driver roster featuring recent Nurburgring 24 Hours winners Dries Vanthoor, Frank Stippler and Frederik Vervisch plus DTM stars Robin Frijns, Rene Rast and Nico Muller. Land Motorsport and WRT both represent the manufacturer along with Sainteloc who are reunited with 2017 winners Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase.
The event’s most successful manufacturer, BMW, makes its maiden appearance at Spa as a full-season #IntGTC entry this year. Walkenhorst Motorsport, which won the race 12 months ago, runs two of the manufacturer’s four nominated M6s alongside BMW Team Schnitzer whose line-up features John Edwards for the first time. BMW's factory IMSA ace replaces Chaz Mostert who is competing in Australian Supercars over the same weekend. Boutsen Ginion's Am Cup-registered M6 completes the Bavarian quartet.
Nissan’s only presence comes courtesy of its full-season Intercontinental squad, KCMG, while Honda’s factory Team Motul-backed entry is joined by Jenson Team Rocket RJN’s Silver Cup-registered NSX GT3.