Grove Racing’s GT3 debut in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is the first of a planned transition to the platform globally that could include full-season efforts in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Australian squad, which are four-time Class B winners at Mount Panorama, have stepped up to the GT3 Pro-Am class this weekend with the father-and-son duo of Stephen and Brenton Grove joined by Ben Barker in the Herberth Motorsport-owned Porsche 911 GT3 R.
It comes after two previous GT3 outings for the Grove’s in the FIA Motorsport Games, which ignited their desire to move into GT3 racing full-time.
“Most of my racing has always been in a Cup car so when we drove the [Porscvhe 911 GT3] R in the Nations Cup, it was fantastic,” team owner/driver Stephen Grove told Sportscar365.
“For me, it’s a real transition between finishing the Cup car. We’re going to do one more year in [Porsche Mobil 1] Supercup, and then it will be full-time GT3 racing.”
With plans to contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa in a GT3 Am class effort run by Herberth, which will feature Stephen, Brenton and a pair to-be-announced Bronze-rated drivers, Grove has not ruled out additional IGTC rounds this year.
Among the enhancements to IGTC this year include a dedicated championship for Pro-Am competitors, which Grove said interests both him and the team.
“The first two rounds are Bathurst and Spa. If things are progressing well we may continue with it,” he said.
“Racing against Gold and Platinum drivers and factory drivers, you can’t beat them, obviously, with the same machinery.
“But to go and have a championship within a championship is something I really want to do.
“And the series that I continue to do over the next few years will always be [that]. It will be something whether I can be a Pro-Am or in an Am category.
“I like the concept of Pro-Am because I can race with my son and if he’s not available, I could race with other people.
“I’ve raced with Earl Bamber and Scotty McLaughlin and I’ve learned from all of them and it’s made my racing better. Pro-Am is a really good system for me.”
IGTC, WeatherTech Championship Among Options for 2021
Grove said that full-season efforts in either IGTC or the WeatherTech Championship are possibilities for next year, although a final decision has not yet been taken.
“This championship (IGTC) is something we’re looking at and also in IMSA,” he said. “There’s some discussions at the moment where we’d run the whole season over there as well in 2021.
“Along the journey you try to go to more tracks. I’ve raced at the Circuit of The Americas in 2017 in a Cup car. There’s some great tracks [in the U.S.] and Daytona is really, really high on my list.
“I would think we’d hopefully do that next year anyway, even if we didn’t do the full [season]. Watkins Glen, Sebring… There’s a lot of great tracks I’d love to tick off as well.”
Herberth Partnership a “Good Connection”
Grove has praised his team’s cooperation with Herberth Motorsport, which has largely been behind the their Supercup program as well as its transition to GT3 racing.
“We ended up partnering with them in Supercup,” said Stephen. “They run me in Supercup under the Team Australia banner. They’re fantastic to work with so we have a good connection there.
“They have a close relationship with Porsche so it works very well.”
This weekend’s effort at Bathurst sees a “50/50” split between Grove and Heberth personnel.
“We bring local knowledge,” said Stephen. “The car went to our factory, we used our truck, we use a lot of our infrastructure and their infrastructure.
“I think the relationship is very strong and we’ll do a lot more together.”