The initial batch of Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli-nominated entries competing at this year’s Suzuka 10 Hours has been confirmed.
At least 22 cars from 2019’s eight full-season manufacturers will be eligible to score points during Asia’s round on August 23-25. More could be added once the final entry list is revealed in due course.
Three additional international entries currently competing in other SRO series have also been announced, although none are eligible to score points for their respective manufacturer at Suzuka. More are expected to follow.
A BUMPER #IntGTC ENTRY IN PROSPECT
Four months still remain until Suzuka welcomes the Intercontinental GT Challenge, but the world’s only global GT3 championship has already surpassed its total of 17 entries that contested 2018’s 47th Summer Endurance Race.
The top-two in this year’s Manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, have both committed their full complement of four cars.
GruppeM Racing and Strakka Racing, which powered Mercedes-AMG to a one-two finish in Japan last season, are joined by Super GT fan favourites GoodSmile Racing and Hong Kong outfit Craft-Bamboo Racing. SunEnergy1 Racing are also entered but will only score points towards the Bronze Drivers’ Championship.
Porsche, meanwhile, are represented by this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours winners, Earl Bamber Motorsport, plus one of its Asian partner teams, Absolute Racing. Both will enter two new 911 GT3 Rs.
Reigning champions, Audi Sport, stick with the same combination as last season when Absolute Racing, which represents both Audi and Porsche in Asia, finished third overall at Suzuka. Super GT regulars Hitotsuyama Racing and long-time factory partner Team WRT complete Ingolstadt’s assault.
Ferrari will hope to build on its recent victory at the California 8 Hours after adding two more cars to its line-up. HubAuto Corsa – which won at Laguna Seca – returns to Suzuka after claiming pole position there last August. The Taiwanese team is joined by two experienced Japanese outfits that also contested 2018’s 10 Hours: ARN Racing and CarGuy Racing, which switches from Honda to Ferrari.
Bentley, BMW and Nissan will be represented by their respective full-season teams, namely Bentley Team M-Sport, BMW Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst Motorsport, and KCMG, while Team Motul again spearheads Honda’s factory challenge.
Those four marques could add further entries to their #IntGTC quotas before the 48th Summer Endurance Race where international teams compete against their Super GT, Super Taikyu and Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia counterparts. The event’s provisional entry list, which features teams from all three of those championships, will be revealed next week.
That list will also include two more already-announced European entries: A second Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG and Garage 59’s new Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Meanwhile, Lamborghini becomes the 10th manufacturer to be confirmed courtesy of Australian squad AMAC Motorsport, which usually competes in Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, while a Japanese-based McLaren driven by two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is also known to have entered. Further details about that entry, including the team, could be known next week.
This year’s five-round Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign reaches its halfway mark at the Total 24 Hours of Spa on July 25-28 before Suzuka takes centre stage one month later. The revived Kyalami 9 Hour in South Africa stages 2019’s season finale on November 21-23.