Ferrari and Honda will both officially contest the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli campaign, which begins at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour this weekend. Their confirmations bring this year’s total number of full-season manufacturers to a record-breaking eight.
The announcement of Ferrari and Honda comes hot on the heels of Nissan, whose participation was confirmed on Monday. They’re joined on this year’s roster by Audi, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche. Collectively, Intercontinental GT Challenge-registered entries account for 20 of the 28 GT3s competing at Bathurst this weekend, as well as almost half of the 41-strong entry list.
Ferrari, which claimed Bathurst 12 Hours victory in 2014 and ‘17, makes its debut as a Intercontinental GT Challenge entrant at the same event this weekend. Two 488 GT3s are registered to score points towards this year’s Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships at the opening round: last season’s Suzuka 10 Hours pole position winners, HubAuto Corsa, field an all-Australian crew comprising Nick Foster, Tim Slade and Nick Percat, while experienced Ferrari outfit Spirit of Race has paired Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda with Paul Dalla Lana.
Honda, meanwhile, has chosen to skip Bathurst in favour of beginning its 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign at the Laguna Seca California 8 Hours on March 28-30 when its new NSX GT3 Evo is homologated to compete for the first time. The same model will then contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium), Suzuka 10 Hours (Japan) and season-closing Kyalami 9 Hour (South Africa), which returns to the international schedule later this year for the first time since 1982.
Manufacturers are permitted to nominate a maximum of four cars per Intercontinental GT Challenge round, although only the two best-placed entries will score points towards the overall Manufacturers’ Championship. Drivers competing in all nominated entries will score points towards their respective overall championship while amateur drivers are also eligible for Bronze Drivers’ Championship points, subject to registration.
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO: “The addition of seventh and eighth full-season manufacturers, and especially those of Ferrari and Honda’s standing, underlines the growing significance of the Intercontinental GT Challenge on the world stage. A global championship featuring five of GT3’s biggest endurance races deserves a stellar entry list, and that is exactly what Intercontinental GT Challenge has assembled ahead of its fourth season.
“I am delighted that Ferrari and Honda have committed to the 2019 championship and cannot wait to see how they compare against the likes of Audi, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche. Not since the days of the FIA GT1 World Championship has GT racing enjoyed such a high-profile global platform.”
Audi begins the defence of its Bathurst 12 Hour victory and Intercontinental GT Challenge Manufacturers’ title at Mount Panorama in Australia this weekend (February 1-3).
Source. SRO Motorsports Group