> Pro-Am class centre of attention Down Under
> All GT3 entries eligible for IGTC manufacturers’ points
> Live coverage on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel
> Provisional entry list: LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour
Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli roars back into life Down Under next weekend (May 13-15) when the globe-trotting GT3 series returns to the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time since 2020.
This year, and for the first time in IGTC history, a Pro-Am or Am driver crew will clinch outright victory following the event organiser’s decision to suspend the Pro and Silver classes.
It’s also the first time that an ‘amateur’ competitor – classified as a Bronze by the FIA – has a realistic chance of winning at Mount Panorama since specific driver categorisation was introduced in 2015. IGTC first visited Bathurst one year later.
Nevertheless, GT3’s 15-strong provisional entry still features many world-class professional drivers from the realms of GT racing and Australia’s domestic Supercars championship. What’s more, Pro-Am provides the backbone to most GT3 series on every continent, including Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS for which the Bathurst 12 Hour comprises its first Endurance Championship round of 2022.
Fans unable to attend Mount Panorama can watch the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour live and for free on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel, while Fox Sports, the Seven Network and Kayo also carry live coverage across Australia.
PRO-AM FOCUS PROMPTS TEMPORARY IGTC RULES TWEAKS
The Bathurst 12 Hour’s global appeal is based, in part, on the many manufacturer-backed teams and factory drivers that travel from Asia, Europe and beyond each year. That and its traditional February date also make the event Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s ideal season opener.
However, with manufacturer participation reducing this year due to the Covid-19-enforced date change, SRO Motorsports Group has made temporary alterations to its IGTC regulations that are designed to maintain and renew OEM interest from Round 2 onwards without diminishing their efforts next weekend.
Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and reigning manufacturers’ champions Audi Sport have already committed to full-season IGTC programmes. As a one-off, though, all manufacturers contesting the GT3 class in Australia will be eligible to score Intercontinental points.
The existing process of each manufacturer nominating a maximum of four cars has also been suspended. Instead, only each manufacturer’s highest placed car will provisionally score points. These will not be officially awarded until the complete list of IGTC entrants is released just before Round 2, which takes place at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa in July. Points are still awarded in the usual order of 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.
Overall drivers’ championship points will not be awarded at all at Bathurst, although Pro-Am Challenge points will be scored by crews that have registered for the classification.
BIG NAMES READY TO CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN
A total of 15 ‘Class A’ GT3s, split between 12 Pro-Am and three Am crews, are all provisionally eligible to score IGTC manufacturers’ championship points for either Audi Sport, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG or Porsche next Sunday, while a further two Porsche GT3 Cup and three Invitational cars have also entered.
Audi Sport, the event’s most successful brand, is the best represented manufacturer thanks to seven 2022-spec R8 LMS Evo II GT3s. It’s also not short on star names, which include reigning Repco Bathurst 1000 winners Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth.
There’s also several, still to be announced factory drivers who will feature in two of the six cars entered by Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia.
Reigning Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS champion Yasser Shahin, Bathurst podium finisher David Russell, Bathurst winner Nick Percat and current Australian Drivers’ Champion Joey Mawson all add further firepower to Ingolstadt’s quest for a fourth 12 Hour win and record-extending ninth IGTC victory.
The championship’s most recent race winner, Mercedes-AMG, is also well stocked with six cars.
Like Audi Sport, several factory drivers remain TBC. But there’s already no shortage of them at IGTC’s reigning Pro-Am Challenge champions SunEnergy1 Racing where Kenny Habul and Martin Konrad share with Luca Stolz and Jules Gounon, who won the last 12 Hour to be staged in 2020.
Triple Eight are also undoubtedly contenders thanks to the combination of reigning Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen and rising rookie star Broc Feeney who are joined by Prince Jefri Ibrahim.
Hong Kong outfit Craft-Bamboo, who represented Mercedes-AMG on the Mountain in 2019 and ’20, will also reveal another star line-up in the coming days.
Porsche will be represented by five-time 12 Hour class winners Grove Racing whose 911 GT3 R is crewed by father/son duo Stephen and Brenton Grove plus FIA World Endurance Championship ace Ben Barker who returns with them this year.
And Lamborghini is also in the running for IGTC points courtesy of Wall Racing. Bathurst local and television presenter Grant Denyer joins Carrera Cup champion David Wall, Supercars racer Tony D’Alberto and Adrian Deitz.
2022 LIQUI MOLY BATHURST 12 HOUR TIMETABLE (AEST)
Thursday 12 May
10:30 – 13:45: Town to Track Parade
Friday 13 May
10:00 – 10:30: Free Practice 1 (Bronze drivers only)
10:40 – 11:10: Free Practice 2
15:20 – 16:00: Free Practice 3 (Bronze drivers only)
17:05 – 17:45: Free Practice 4
Saturday 14 May
08:05 – 09:05: Free Practice 5
09:55 – 10:55: Free Practice 6
13:20 – 13:45: Qualifying 1 (Bronze drivers only)
13:55 – 14:20: Qualifying 2 (Pro drivers only)
16:10 – 16:55: Top 10 Shootout
Sunday 15 May
05:15 – 17:15: Bathurst 12 Hour