This year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which also hosts 2022’s season-opening Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round on May 13-15, will feature a revised class structure that places greater emphasis on Pro-Am driver crews.
Australia’s International Enduro has been a magnet for factory-supported entries and professional line-ups in recent years. But the enforced date change due to the global pandemic – from February to May – as well as continuing travel restrictions across the Asia-Pacific region and ongoing global freight challenges has presented a rare opportunity for Pro-Am crews to contend for outright victory this year.
International teams and factory drivers are still expected to compete alongside their Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS rivals whose domestic season also begins at the 12 Hour. However, all GT3 entries must now feature at least one FIA bronze-graded driver.
The Pro class will return to Mount Panorama in 2023 when the race also reverts to its traditional weekend on February 3-5.
But before that the emphasis will be very much on offering amateurs a first opportunity to win Australia’s biggest endurance race since specific driver categorisation was introduced in 2015. It’s also the first time in IGTC history that a non-Pro crew will win a round of the global GT3 series outright, as well as in the Pro-Am Challenge class.
Amateurs will be given an extra practice session and play a decisive role in qualifying where the aggregate time of each crew determines the Pirelli Top-10 Shootout contenders.
Stephane Ratel – SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO: “Barring situations outside of our control I was determined that Bathurst would return to the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli calendar in 2022, and this new class structure ensures it can do just that without diminishing the championship or event.
“Factory teams and drivers usually make the headlines but the fact is amateurs and the Pro-Am class are the bedrock of global GT racing. There are also few, if any, races of Bathurst’s international stature where Pro-Am crews are the stars of the show. But that won’t be the case in May when some of the world’s best amateurs have a chance to win one of motorsport’s great endurance events. It feels like a genuine throwback to previous 12 Hours and GT racing generally of old.
“I’m also happy to see the race returning to its traditional early February date in 2023. Our only other option this year would have been to cancel the event, which neither SRO nor Supercars were willing to do. Equally, staging it in May isn’t compatible with European programmes. We’ve found a smart solution for this year but are also looking forward to seeing Bathurst fully living up to its status as Australia’s International Enduro next season.”
Shane Howard – Supercars CEO: “The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has traditionally been the launching point for the Australian motorsport season and brings the eyes of the world to Mount Panorama each February.
“We have worked closely with our partners at the Bathurst Regional Council, Destination New South Wales and SRO to secure a return to the traditional February race date next year, giving competitors, supporters and partners long-term confidence moving forward.”
Stuart Ayres – NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport: “The NSW Government is proud to support the Liqui-Moli Bathurst 12 Hour through our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW and welcome race teams and fans back to Australia’s home of motorsport, Mount Panorama, for what is set to be another thrilling instalment of this iconic race.”
“This is a signature event on the NSW motorsports calendar that provides a great boost to the visitor economy of the Central West, so I appreciate and congratulate the resilience and determination of the event organisers in getting this great race back on track and securing the dates for next year’s event. We will continue to support their efforts to deliver a safe, successful and spectacular event for all competitors and fans.”
Robert Taylor – Mayor, Bathurst Regional Council: “We look forward to welcoming back international drivers, their teams and supporters to Mount Panorama.
“The Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the premiere international endurance challenges attracting world-class entrants.
“The world-wide exposure of the race builds on Mount Panorama’s excellent reputation as one of the world’s finest motor racing circuits and showcases our city to the world.”
Ken Collier – Category Manager, Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS: “It makes all the sense in the world that Australia’s biggest GT race is part of the GT World Challenge Australia Endurance Championship and we’ve been pleased to work with our partners at SRO and the Bathurst 12 Hour team to make it happen this year.
“It works for our competitors who will enjoy a hallmark event on the calendar and one of the most iconic GT races in the world, and it works for the Bathurst 12 Hour to work with GT World Challenge Australia to support and grow the sport here.
“We share a mutual partner in SRO who shares the passion for growing GT3 racing in this part of the world that we all do, and this is a move that will support that – not just this year but moving forward.
“We are looking forward to another Bathurst classic this May that will also serve as an exciting kick-off to the 2022 GT World Challenge Australia Endurance Championship.”
Paul Martin – Bathurst 12 Hour Motorsport Operations Manager: “With the support of key event stakeholders, we have come together to create a plan that ensures the race and event can proceed in the strongest possible fashion.
“This year’s event will have an increased focus on the domestic GT market, while continuing to be one of the most popular and highly regarded international endurance races on the global calendar.
“Combined with the regular influx of talent from Supercars and key driving talent from overseas, it will see the event continue to provide the great spectacle it always has while also adapting to the current challenging landscape for international events.
“We’re thrilled to be able to confirm the dates for next year’s event. This allows all international and domestic competitors to circle the date in their calendar and begin planning for their 2023 trip to Mount Panorama.”
2022 LIQUI MOLY BATHURST 12 HOUR CLASS STRUCTURE
Class A: GT3 Pro-Am
If 3 drivers, 2x are Platinum, Gold or Silver and 1x Bronze
If 4 drivers, 2x are Platinum, Gold or Silver and 2x Bronze
Class A: GT3 Am
Maximum of 1x Silver driver, the remaining drivers are Bronze
Class B: GT3 Trophy Pro-Am
Maximum of 1x Silver driver, the remaining drivers are Bronze
Class B: GT3 Trophy AM
Class C: Porsche GT3 Cup Car
Class D: GT4
Class I: Invitational Class Cars, ‘GTC’ cars from one-make categories including Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Supercup and Audi R8 Cup
Source. SRO Motorsports Group