2022’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli campaign will begin Down Under early next year when the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour takes place on February 25-27.
Minor calendar changes also concern next season’s Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour, which has switched to December 1-3.
Bathurst’s new date is three weeks later than the traditional early February slot but also three weeks before the provisional weekend announced during SRO Motorsports Group’s end-of-season press conference held in October.
The globetrotting GT3 championship was unable to stage its de facto season opener at Mount Panorama earlier this year. However, the Bathurst 12 Hour’s promoter, Supercars, is confident that Australia’s travel measures will be relaxed sufficiently for the event to go ahead with an international entry in late February.
Australia’s International Enduro, as it’s now also known, was first held with local Series Production cars in 1991 before the switch to FIA GT3 regulations in 2011 heralded a new era of manufacturer-backed entrants from around the world. Five years later Bathurst hosted the inaugural round of Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli, which has remained a cornerstone of the event ever since. That timeframe also coincides with five different winning manufacturers in as many seasons.
The other change concerns IGTC’s African leg, the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour, which now takes place one week after it was originally scheduled to do so. Its new December 1-3 date is the same weekend as this year’s season finale. As is tradition, the race is staged on a Saturday and will likely decide 2022’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ champions.
The rest of IGTC’s 2022 calendar remains the same as announced last month.
The world’s biggest GT3 race, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, stages Round 2 on July 28-31 before the series heads from Europe to North America in time for the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS on October 7-9. Both events also feature on their respective continent’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS calendars.
Shane Howard, Supercars Chief Operating Officer: “The LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour has become a favourite event of the motorsport landscape both in Australia and around the world.
“Being held on Australia’s spiritual motorsport home, Mount Panorama, the race has become one of the most popular on the GT racing calendar and is held in such high esteem by some of the best teams and brands globally.
“The team behind the event will work to offer a memorable experience for those attending trackside and we are very excited to have now locked in a date to bring the event back next February.”
Staphane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO: “Naturally, we are absolutely thrilled to see Bathurst returning to Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s calendar early next year. It is the championship’s spiritual season opener, has an atmosphere like no other, and is rightly considered one of the world’s great endurance races. IGTC’s teams, drivers and manufacturers have undoubtedly played a role in amplifying this status, and I cannot wait to see their return to the mountain in 2022.
“Maintaining the event’s traditional early February date wasn’t an option but after consulting with teams, manufacturers and Supercars it also became apparent that an alternative weekend that month would be preferable to March when the Australian, European and American seasons begin ramping up. I think we’ve found a good balance between the two, which also allows us to keep an important element of what makes Bathurst special.”
Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Tourism: “The NSW Government is proud to support the Bathurst 12 Hour and welcome race teams back to the track and motorsports fans back to Mount Panorama for what is set to be another thrilling instalment of this iconic race.
“It has been a challenging two years in regional NSW, and we know events like this will help turbocharge our social and economic recovery.”
David Sherley, General Manager Bathurst Regional Council: “It’s exciting to begin the countdown to one of Australia’s much-loved motorsports events – the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
“Mount Panorama and motor racing have a long association and so do Council and Supercars.
“We look forward to many more years of working together and continuing to promote the 12 Hour, our city and the racing circuit.”
Peter Baumann, Marketing Director LIQUI MOLY: “We are extremely excited to have the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour back in the calendar in 2022.
“This has become a major international racing event and race teams, sponsors and fans have been waiting for.
“Also for us it’s a signature event in our sports portfolio.”
2022 INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE POWERED BY PIRELLI CALENDAR
R1 – February 25-27 – LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour (Australasia)
R2 – July 28-31 – TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa (Europe)
R3 – October 7-9 – Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS (North America)
R4 – December 1-3 – Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour (Africa)
Source. SRO Motorsports Group