Following the approval of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, it has been confirmed that a new event – the Bahrain GT Festival – will take place on 30 November and 1 December 2018. Promoted by SRO Motorsports Group and held at Bahrain International Circuit, it will be headlined by the FIA GT Nations Cup, in which drivers from across the globe will compete for national glory.
The FIA GT Nations Cup will complement the FIA GT World Cup, which has taken place since 2015 on the iconic Macau street circuit. With the World Cup now reserved for Gold and Platinum drivers, and using a non-traditional GT format, the FIA wished to add an event to its calendar for Bronze and Silver drivers that corresponded more closely to the usual one-hour GT3 race programme.
Given the busy international racing calendar, a concept based around competing nations was deemed to be the most relevant.
A maximum of one car will be entered per country, with each including a Silver and a Bronze driver of the same nationality. Drivers will be selected by their National Sporting Authority (ASN), while cars may be entered by any team, regardless of nationality, with one team permitted to enter cars for multiple nations.
The liveries of the cars will fundamentally integrate the national colours of the competitors to further add to the spectacle and make the competitors more easily identifiable to fans at the circuit and watching on television.
Two 80-minute practice sessions will allow competitors to familiarise themselves with the 5.4km Bahrain International Circuit, followed by two 20-minute qualifying sessions that will set the grid for a pair of 60-minute qualifying races. The event will conclude with a 60-minute main race that will crown the title-winning drivers and their country.
While the FIA GT Nations Cup will provide the headline act, the Bahrain GT Festival will also feature significant support events.
FIA President Jean Todt said: “The GT3 category is popular around the world, with strong competitions organised nationally in addition to the hugely successful FIA GT World Cup. The format for this exciting new FIA GT Nations Cup, with ASNs selecting two drivers to compete for their country, is very unusual in motor sport, and it will provide an engaging spectacle for the fans.”
Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, CEO of the Bahrain International Circuit: “Since we held our first GT Festival back in 2004, the popularity of GT racing has grown significantly in the region and so we are excited to be hosting a brand-new weekend of high quality racing. The FIA GT Nations Cup will include some of the very best driving talent from around the world and we look forward to working with SRO for what will be a packed programme of racing for fans.”
Stephane Ratel, founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group: “I have long held an ambition to return to Bahrain, after our innovative and successful joint venture in 2004, followed by the FIA GT Championship finale in 2005. The country-based concept for the FIA GT Nations Cup is also something I have been working on for a long time, and I am delighted to see both of these projects come to fruition at once.”
Application criteria for FIA GT Nations Cup
Drivers intending to enter the FIA GT Nations Cup should submit, in writing, a letter to their national federation stating that they wish to participate. The letter must include the driver line-up, with both drivers holding the same nationality passport, and the car they will be driving.
When the letter has been submitted a payment of €10,000 will be requested, with the national motorsport federations tasked with choosing the drivers who will go forward to the event. Once drivers have been selected, an additional €50,000 will be required to confirm entry. This will be returned once the car arrives in Bahrain.
ASNs must submit their driver proposals to the FIA no later than 15 September 2018. The entry list will be confirmed by the FIA no later than 30 September 2018.
Freight costs for equipment and cars of all competing series will be organised, with costs covered by the promoter.